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Posted on Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 5:45 p.m.

Shooting victim's mother says sentence of killer isn't long enough

By John Counts

Thumbnail image for rooks.jpg

Kenneth Rooks

A 26-year-old Oak Park man was sentenced Monday in the Washtenaw County Trial Court to 15 to 23 years in prison for the December shooting death of a 21-year-old Ypsilanti Township man.

Kenneth Rooks, who pleaded guilty last month to second-degree murder in the death of Jonathon Claude Rollins, showed little expression as Rollins’ mother and 5-year-old sister addressed Judge Melinda Morris’ courtroom.

“My brother was a nice person. He was very kind to me. We would draw together. Jonathon taught me to fly a kite,” 5-year-old Chelsea Cofield told the court. “I miss my brother very, very much. I think about him every day. I pray for him every night.”

When Morris asked if Rooks had anything to say, he replied, “No, ma’am,” the only words he spoke throughout the proceeding.

“He should have got longer,” Rollins’ mother, Claudia Cofield, told about the time Rooks will have to serve. “(My son) was a good person. He didn’t deserve to die.”

Claudia Cofield also addressed the court before sentencing was passed. She read notes from both Rollins’ grandmother and older sister before reading her own. Other friends and family members openly wept in the courtroom as she read.

“My life will never be the same,” Claudia Cofield told the court. “My son is gone. He was more than a son, he was a friend.”

Sobbing, she took a long pause before resuming.

“I will never forget how affectionate and supportive he was,” she continued.

Rollins was shot three times, twice in the body and once in the head, at an apartment on South Prospect Street in Ypsilanti on Dec. 21, 2011, Ypsilanti police said. The two men knew each other and had gotten into an argument around 2 a.m., police added.

“These are the most tragic cases the courts have,” Morris said before passing sentence.

The prosecution was seeking 15 to 25 years while the defense sought 15 to 20, which was in the range of how Rooks was scored per state sentencing guidelines.

Rooks will get credit for 300 days served. On Sept. 10, he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Charges of possession of a firearm and felony firearm were dropped in the plea deal. Rooks' habitual offender status also was dismissed.

John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 4:24 p.m.

They [the prosecution] drop the habitual offender charge so he can get out earlier? Like this tragedy wasn't the killer's first crime....


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 3:25 a.m.

way too little time for a repeat offender to serve for 2nd degree murder...he should get life without parole.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

Where are the "tough gun law" advocates?? Based on current law, a habitual offender should get 10-20 just for possessing a gun. He murdered someone and gets a light sentence. Where are the protesters? Where is the outrage? I will never take the gun control movement seriously until they start responding to cases like this.


Wed, Oct 24, 2012 : 1:08 a.m.

Trust me, I'm outraged! However, last time I expressed my outrage my comment got deleted.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 1:29 p.m.

Once again the gun charges were dropped. I always have to hear people complain about criminals having guns and how we need more restrictive gun laws yet we rarely enforce the laws we already have. Boo to the prosecutor.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 11:13 a.m.

Shouldn't the headline read "Murder victim's....?" Shooting victim leads one to believe that the victim survived.

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 6:13 a.m.

It's Morris justice. The prosecutors don't even put up a fight anymore if she's assigned to the case.


Wed, Oct 24, 2012 : 1:14 a.m.

Anyone remember this case from Ypsi Township: That woman turned State's evidence and took a Second-Degree Murder plea. She got 30 to 45 years.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 10:37 a.m.

True, but I still think the sentence is inadequate. First-degree automatically gets a natural life (no chance of parole) sentence, which in this guy's case would equate to 50 years or so. I'm not sure how the court can justify a 35-year difference in sentence between first and second degree. After all, they are both murder. Seriously, a lot of people have done more than 15 years without killing anyone.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 8:41 a.m.

2nd degree murder is just that 2nd and not first.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 3:19 a.m.

Let's try this again without getting deleted: I don't think the sentence is long enough. Is that OK, Thought Police?


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 12:55 a.m.

Justice system FAILS again


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 11:24 p.m.

Sounds like it is time for Melinda Morris to go


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 8:42 a.m.

yeah he should get 300 time times instead of , changes are he will not survive living i prison for 25.


Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 11:36 p.m.

When Mr Rollins comes back to life, Mr Rooks can get out of prison.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 3:01 a.m.

My philosophy as well.


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 12:35 a.m.

That works for me


Mon, Oct 22, 2012 : 10:43 p.m.

And he will be out in 5 or 6 if he is good ---What a shame


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 8:40 a.m.

if "god" will forgive he'll be out then..


Tue, Oct 23, 2012 : 2:59 a.m.

No, Michigan has Truth in Sentencing. He will have to do at least 15.