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Michigan inmate who won groundbreaking court case strikes out at parole board

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DETROIT — An inmate who won a groundbreaking case about the power of Michigan governors to change prison sentences has lost his bid for a parole review and won't be considered again for five years, an official said Friday.

The parole board took a vote in July after Matthew Makowski was interviewed by chairman Michael Eagen, said Russ Marlan, a spokesman at the state Corrections Department.

"They pass around a voting form, and parole board members either sign their name under 'interest to parole' or 'no interest to parole,'" Marlan told The Associated Press.

"In this case, the first six parole board members signed under 'no interest to parole.' At that point the voting was over since a majority could not be achieved," he explained.

No reason was given. A vote in favor of Makowski could have led to a parole hearing, although state law also allows a judge to block the entire process.

Makowski's attorney, Paul Reingold at University of Michigan law school, declined to comment. Attorney General Bill Schuette had urged the parole board to keep Makowski behind bars.

He has been in prison since 1989 when he was convicted of first-degree murder for a robbery that turned into a fatal stabbing in Dearborn. Makowski wasn't present when co-worker Pietro "Pete" Puma was killed but he had arranged the robbery.

Makowski, now 47, has been a model prisoner. In 2010, Gov. Jennifer Granholm commuted his no-parole sentence days before leaving office but then changed her mind when Puma's family objected.

In June, the Michigan Supreme Court unanimously said Granholm's reversal was illegal, making Makowski eligible for parole.

Reingold, meanwhile, still is waiting for the Supreme Court to respond to his request to jump back into the case. He believes the commutation means Makowski should be automatically released from prison.


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