The Michigan Supreme Court last week said that Governor Jennifer Granholm acted illegally in 2010 when she reversed her decision to commute Matthew Makowski’s no-parole sentence in the fatal stabbing of his co-worker 20 years ago. After analyzing the court’s opinion, the parole board has decided that Makowski doesn’t automatically qualify for release. The board stated that he must start the parole process from the beginning.
Russ Marlan, the Corrections Department spokesman told the media, “It’s a lengthy process…”
The court ruled that Makowski should be treated as an inmate with a parolable life sentence.
Marlan said, “It was a bit of a surprise. The language…is what changed the…case.”
Instead of simply voting to release Makowski based upon Gov. Granholm’s commutation the board has opted for a slower approach. The board will interview Makowski and the 10-member board then will decide, based upon that interview, whether to open a “case”. If the majority votes yes then the rules say that the advice of a judge in Wayne County, where Makowski was convicted, must be sought for permission. The judge could stop the process right there. If the judge does not object then the board would hold a public hearing at which, Makowski and others with an interest in the case, would testify about whether he deserves parole. This whole process or parts of the process could occur multiple times before, if ever, Makowski gets granted parole.
Makowski, now 47, was convicted of first-degree murder for arranging the robbery of a health club co-worker, Pietro Puma, in 1988. He did not know the robbers were armed, did not instruct them to kill him, and wasn’t present when Puma was killed.