SAGINAW, Michigan (Jan. 28, 2017) — Two men armed with assault rifles gunned down a federal prisoner in a halfway house just two months after his 19-year sentence for drug dealing had been commuted by President Obama.
Surveillance video shows the two men, dressed in dark clothes and wearing masks, force their way into Bannum Place, a federal halfway house in Saginaw, Michigan, on the evening of Jan. 23.
As one of them held the other two dozen residents at bay, the other hunted down and killing 31-year-old Demarlon Thomas, shooting him numerous times, including once in the head.
“If you look at the way this was executed, it was no accident — they knew exactly who they were looking for and knew exactly where he was at,” Michigan State Police Lt. David Kaiser told the Saginaw News.
Thomas was a former member of the Sunny Side Gang, a drug outfit that had for years run Saginaw’s South Side. But in 2008, secured convictions against dozens of members of the gang, including Thomas, who was sentenced to 19 years in prison.
But in November, President Obama included Thomas on a list of 79 people across the country whose sentences would be commuted. The agreement shaved about eight years off of Thomas sentence. He was awaiting a full released on March 22.
Thomas, who had been a star football player in high school and attended college on an athletic scholarship, admitted selling just shy of 15 grams of crack cocaine to a confidential informant three separate times. He also had two previous felony drug convictions.
He had argued in an appeal that was rejected that his sentence was unduly harsh, as he was just a low-level street dealer in the gang.
“He was just happy to be free and have a second chance at life,” childhood friend Carla Robinson told the Saginaw newspaper. “Since he’s been home, all he’s been trying to do is do right. He’s been trying to find a job. He wasn’t a troublemaker, even with his convictions.”