Kent County 17th Circuit Court Judge Mark Trusock carefully outlined his reasons for vastly exceeding the guidelines recommendation for a maximum in the felony perjury matter of Malcolm Xavier Jeffries. Jeffries was convicted in a jury trial that ended Sept 3. The jury found that he had lied when he claimed no knowledge of the death of Christopher Joel Battaglia. Battaglia was set upon and beaten to death in the early morning hours of June 11, 1990, when he was walking along Grand Rapids’ Lake Drive. Aurelias J. Marshall was convicted earlier this year of the murder, but witnesses said that he didn’t act alone; Jeffries and Quintin “ManHowell” Howell, Sr., were there, too; Jeffries described as kicking Joel and Howell standing back. Howell has since died.
The state guidelines–no longer mandates–called for incarcation of from 6.5 to 21.66 years. Prosecutor Kellee Koncki had asked the judge for at least 25 years, one each for the years that Joel’s parents, Gail and Jerry, had to live unknowing of who killed their son.
While Jeffries was not on trial for Joel’s murder, Koncki asserted “He is directly involved with the victim’s death. He definitely assaulted the victim.” Trusock agreed with testimony in his sentencing: “Clearly this is not a murder case, but it revolves around a murder case. You clearly were involved and you lied about it and threatened witnesses.”
For his part, Jeffries again put on a show of outrage when he was given a chance to speak, first denying his guilt and then spewing any amount of filth against Koncki and the judge. At last he was removed from the courtroom until he was under better control. The judge had ordered him gagged, but after a few other court matters Jeffries was again led into the room. Koncki had asked–not unreasonably–for some extra protection that came in the form of Grand Rapids Police Detective Pat Needham, one of the two lead investigators on the case (with Erik Boillat), and Sgt. Dave Gillem, a behind-the-scenes technologist and strategist with the Grand Rapids Police Department. The two officers stood between Jeffries and Koncki.
Noting that the state guidelines did not cover the seriousness of all his criminal activity and the ongoing threat that Jeffries represented, Judge Trusock handed down the 40-100 year term. “What a dangerous and deranged individual you are,” the judge had said earlier in the proceedings, also noting that Jeffries had been adjudged competent to stand trial.
For their part Gail and Jerry Battaglia are glad this part of the long journey is finished.
“I just feel so overwhelmed,” said Gail. “But there was deep satisfaction when the judge said 40 years for the minimum. It grieves my heart that this was the last person Joel was in contact with. I don’t think Joel knew that people like this existed.”
Koncki also was satisfied with the sentence. “You don’t see evil a whole lot here. Mostly there are bad choices. But his is a dark heart. When you see that it takes you aback.”
And for Needham, was he satisfied with the sentence? “Boy, I sure am,” he said while walking out of the courthouse and into a sunny afternoon.
An addendum: Jeffries is evil, may be deranged, may be vile, but he is not stupid. In his vituperative outburst against the prosecutor and judge, Jeffries said to Judge Trusock “I hope the Judicial Tenure Commission comes and gets you ’cause you are a dirty dog.” The Judicial Tenure Commission? Jeffries has more than a rudimentary understanding of the court system. The JTC is that body, an arm of the Michigan Supreme Court, that investigates and recommends discipline by the high court of misbehaving judges and justices. Of course, many felons are better acquainted with our courts than the average citizen.