DETROIT (AP) - Gov. Jennifer Granholm reversed her decision Friday to commute the life sentence of a Detroit-area man convicted in a fatal stabbing in 1988, keeping him behind bars.
The reversal comes after objections from relatives of the victim , Pietro "Pete" Puma, 19, who was killed during a robbery.
Granholm spokeswoman Liz Boyd said the Democratic governor is sending the case back to the state parole board. Any decision to commute Matthew Makowski's sentence would be up to the next governor, Republican Rick Snyder since Granholm's term ends Jan. 1.
Boyd said Granholm appreciated hearing from Puma's relatives, who contacted her office Thursday.
Puma's brother Anthony Puma, 38, told The Associated Press he was "ecstatic" and grateful to Granholm for reversing the decision.
"This means I don't have to look over my shoulder. .My family has nothing to worry about right now," Anthony Puma said, adding Granholm was "blindsided" because she wasn't aware his family hadn't been notified about Makowski's commutation request and an October public hearing in the matter.
Corrections Department spokesman Russ Marlan said the decision effectively ends the process to release Makowski, who would have to start over with a new request once Snyder takes office.
Snyder spokeswoman Geralyn Lasher said Friday it appears that the Puma family's concerns have been heard.
She said Snyder, along with his legal counsel and a corrections director still to be named, would evaluate any new commutation request when it came before them.
The Associated Press left two phone messages and an e-mail message Friday for John Schlinker, a former parole board member who represented Makowski in his commutation request.
At least eight members of the parole board voted to recommend his Makowski's sentence be commuted to time served. They were likely influenced by his good record in prison and the fact that he didn't stab the victim, Marlan said.
Authorities have said Makowski, who worked with Pete Puma at a Dearborn health club, did not participate in the attack but plotted the robbery with two other people. One of the others is serving a life sentence, and the other was paroled in 1993.
Anthony Puma said Makowski was at the hospital when his brother died. His sister, Constance Puma, 51, told The Associated Press this week that Makowski was arrested after giving the eulogy at her
brother's funeral and promising to find the killer.
Makowski, now 43, has served more than 20 years in prison after being convicted of first-degree murder.
If the Puma family had registered under the state's Crime Victim's Rights Act , relatives would have received notice of Makowski's request for release. Family members said they didn't think they had to register, since the sentence was life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
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