In December 2012, a jury found Pyne found guilty of second degree murder of his mother, Ruth Pyne, who was murdered in May 2011. Ruth Pyne was mentally ill for years, and had previously been violent towards Jeffrey and his younger sister Julia.
Jeff Pyne, 23 and a former honor student from the University of Michigan-Flint, continues to maintain his innocence. His family, friends and community support him, and there will definitely be an appeal.
According to Jeff’s dad Bernie Pyne, for the next 30 days, Pyne will be in Jackson State Prison. After that, he will be assigned to a long-term location.
Jeff Pyne can’t wear suit anymore
Now that Jeffrey was found guilty, he wears his orange jumpsuit in court, and has his hands chained around his stomach as he sits in the jury box waiting for his fate. This is in contrast to the suit and tie that Jeff was able to wear throughout the trial, when he was allowed to sit next to his attorney.
The judge started out by telling the prosecutor that he received his memorandum of sentencing, but did not receive any memorandum from Mr. Champion. He also noted that Mr. Champion did not submit any response to the prosecutor’s memorandum.
Prosecutor Skrzynski began by speaking so softly that no one in the audience could hear him. He mentioned the violent nature of the crime and the fact that Jeffrey maintained his innocence. I also heard something about protecting society.
I did hear the prosecutor’s witness from the Department of Corrections Office recommend from 22 ½ years to 60 years in prison. She stated that if the defendant took part in the programs available, and was cooperative, he would serve the minimum amount of that sentence.
Defense argues for lighter sentence
Jeffrey Pyne’s attorney, James Champion, spoke on behalf of Jeffrey. For some reason, he did not submit a sentencing memorandum, and said that he did not have any issues with the prosecutor’s scoring of the sentence.
Champion did ask for a lighter sentence of 13 ½ years, which is at the low end of the guidelines. He then spoke about Jeffrey’s character and community support.
Jeff reads letter pleading for mercy
The judge allowed Jeff to read a letter on his behalf. Jeff thanked his family and supporters. He said that he loves them all very much and looks forward to being with them again.
Jeff maintained his innocence. “I hope that someday the truth may be made known and I may be acquitted,” he said. “However, your honor, I do realize that I was convicted and that you have to sentence me.”
Jeff asked the judge for leniency. “My family especially my father and sister, need and want me home so that we can continue to move on from this tragedy,” he said tearfully. “I ask you for that mercy now. Not for me, but for my family, as my sentence directly affects them.”
Family reads emotional statements
Linda Jarvie, Ruth Pyne’s sister, was out of town and had the prosecutor read a statement from her. In the letter, she said that she believes Jeff is guilty. She wants Jeffrey to acknowledge his role in the crime so that he can receive the help that he needs.
Until he admits his role in this crime, he can not be free, she said in the letter. “How long will this take? I have no idea. That is up to him.”
Susan Showerman, another sister of Ruth Pyne, then read a letter from Jeff’s grandmother (Ruth Pyne’s mother) on behalf of Jeff Pyne. “He is a good boy and I do not believe that he did this,” the letter stated.
Jeff’s Aunt Susan then read her own letter on behalf of Jeff. “I want to know who is responsible for my sister’s murder,” she said. “Unfortunately, I still do not know, as I do not feel that this case was proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”
“Jeff is always a model son, nephew, and sister. He is a positive effect on his sister Julie. I pray that he will come home quickly.”
Bernie Pyne then read a letter from his daughter Julia. In the letter, Julia stated what a great brother Jeffrey has been “I ask you to send him home soon as me and my dad love him very much,” said Julia in her letter.
Bernie Pyne then spoke, stating that his wife’s sister Linda did not have any relationship with Ruth, and that he wasn’t sure why she was now so concerned about Ruth.
Bernie then read his own letter asking for leniency for his son Jeff, stating that he wants him to come home where he belongs.
Bowman knows there is community support
Judge Bowman then mentioned that the court has received numerous letters that were submitted on behalf of the defendant. There were also a number of cards submitted. These letters and cards came from Michigan and other states.
Bowman said that he previously read each of these letters, and also thoroughly reviewed the prosecutor’s memorandum for sentencing as well as the pre-sentencing report.
Bowman stated that 98% of the letters he received in support of Jeff came from people who are still convinced of Jeffrey Pyne’s innocence. However, the judge stated that he must note that 12 jurors heard all of the evidence, and were convinced that Jeff was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The judge then stated that despite all the support for Jeff, Ruth Pyne was brutally murdered and he sees no reason to deviate from the guidelines. Bowman said that he feels that he must deter society and punish the defendant to send the message that no matter who you are, you have to pay for your crime.
"Therefore, this court sentences the defendant to 20-60 years,” stated the judge.
He then gave Jeffrey Pyne the information necessary to inform him of his rights to appeal.
Did jury compromise verdict?
Pyne's attorney, James Champion, recently told M-Live that he received a call from one juror who said that she felt awful after rendering the second-degree murder guilty verdict.
Champion believes that the jury decided on second degree murder as a compromise, since there was only circumstantial evidence against Jeff.
The attorney called this "splitting the baby." The jury had enough doubts that they did not convict Pyne of first degree murder, which was the original charge. However, they were not sure what happened, so they convicted him of the lesser charge.
The mandatory sentence for a first-degree murder conviction in Michigan is life in prison without parole. The second degree murder charge which Pyne was convicted of can carry a charge anywhere from one year to life in prison.
What’s next for Jeffrey Pyne?
For the next 30 days, Pyne will be in Jackson State Prison for some sort of evaluation period. After that, he will be assigned to a long-term location.
To receive a future update about how to communicate to Jeff in prison, please press the “subscribe” button at the top of to this column or bottom of this column.
To read all the stories about this case, please see the Index of stories about Jeff Pyne's case.