On March 19, 75-year-old Sandra Layne was convicted by a jury for murdering her 17-year-old grandson. Layne allegedly shot her grandson multiple times on May 18 of 2012 because of his drug use and her fear of his explosive temper, according to news reports. On Thursday April 18, Layne was sentenced to a minimum of 22 years in prison for the convictions on a charge of second-degree murder and felony firearm. Two days after being convicted of the crimes, her attorney vowed to appeal.
Layne claimed self defense in the shooting of her grandson, who was living with her at the time so that he could pursue his GED. During the trial Layne told the courtroom that her grandson had demanded $2,000 and assaulted her prior to the shooting.
Jerome Sabotta, Layne’s attorney, told Paul W. Smith of WJR talk radio on March 20 that he will appeal Layne’s conviction by questioning the instructions given to jurors by the judge in the trial. Sabotta stated in a news report at Mlive.com that the problem is that his client is 75 years old; therefore, any sentence she was given was essentially a death sentence.
Sabotta said in the news article that the defense wanted a different involuntary manslaughter instruction given to the jury, but the judge refused to give it. He went on to say that the judge went on to instruct the jury on involuntary manslaughter by talking about intentionally aiming a weapon rather than an instruction regarding exceeding the right of self defense and acting in a grossly negligent manner.
Michigan criminal appeal attorneys understand that errors are made in the criminal justice system, and jurors may not be properly instructed in some cases. If this is truly a crime of self-defense, it seems that the sentence is particularly harsh for a 75-year-old woman.
Contact a Michigan criminal appeals lawyer if you have been wrongfully convicted of a crime or feel that the sentence you have been given is harsh in comparison to the crime. It is critical that you choose an attorney with extensive experience in the criminal appeals process for the best possible result.