GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Patty Rosansky's brother believes Gov. Jennifer Granholm's decision to commute Thomas Cress' life sentence is only for political reasons and her decision is a huge miscarriage of justice.
"The real victim is my sister," John Rosansky told 24 Hour News 8 via phone from his home in Maryland on Wednesday.
Cress was convicted in 1985 of raping and murdering the 17-year-old near Battle Creek. He has steadfastly maintained his innocence through the years, and another man - convicted murderer Michael Ronning - later admitted to the crime and to killing two other women in the area.
Rosansky told 24 Hour News 8 Ronning didn't know enough about Patty's murder, and he only admitted to the killing to be transferred to a Michigan prison closer to his family.
Ronning never was transferred to Michigan, and remains in an Arkansas facility.
Though Rosansky said "there's not enough to commute a murder sentence," Granholm disagreed.
"I would have to ask (Granholm) what she was thinking, what if it were her daughter or her sister or someone that she loved? Would she be as quick to commute the sentence?"
Rosansky moved away from Battle Creek after his sister's 1983 murder. The commutation, he said, is making his family relive the nightmare all over again.
"That's the only saving grace for us right now is that the conviction stands," he said.
He recounted the last time he saw his sister. He had worked late and was sleeping on the couch when she saw him.
"It was snowing outside lightly, but it was snowing. I asked her if she wanted me to take her (to school.) She said, 'No, I know you didn't get home from work until late. I can walk. It's not a big deal.'"
He never saw her alive again.
"When we reported her missing that evening, it started a whole chain of nightmarish events." Patty's last hours "were torture, pure torture. I can't imagine them being any other way."
Jaime Rosansky, the niece-by-marriage to Patty, told 24 Hour News 8 she is one of nearly 1000 people who signed an online petition asking Gov. Jennifer Granholm to not commute his life sentence.
"My opinion, like I said, is there is still, to me, a murderer still out there. I look at it whether he's set free and it's been years and years and years, my husband's aunt is not set free. So you know she's the one that's the victim of all this."
Cress, who never got a new trial and whose conviction was never overturned, will likely be out of prison by the end of January, his attorney Bridget McCormack said. She is the co-director of the University of Michigan's Innocence Project.
His sister, John Rosansky said, "was a young girl with hopes and dreams like any other young person. She isn't some inanimate object. She's a person and she is a victim."
Thomas Cress "still gets out to see his family," he said, "but I don't have that opportunity and my sister doesn't have that opportunity."
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