WHITE CLOUD, Mich. (WOOD) — The Newaygo County brothers convicted of the 1989 murder of an 18-year-old woman are looking to have their convictions overturned.
24 Hour News 8 dug into the court files of the convicted killers and found the pair plans to argue next month in the Michigan Court of Appeals that they did not get a fair trial.
Matthew Jones, 45, and his 43-year-old brother Paul Jones were convicted in 2015 of murdering Shannon Siders near Newaygo in June 1989. Paul Jones was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to between 30 and 70 years behind bars. His brother was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to prison for life without the possibility of parole.
Siders was last seen 27 years ago riding a car with the Jones brothers. Witnesses testified they saw the pair standing over Siders’ limp body, which was found in Manistee National Forest later that summer. Early in the investigation, Matthew and Paul Jones told police they had dropped Siders off at her home. They were later cleared of any involvement and the case went cold.
In 2011, a cold-case task force took up Siders’ case again. In the summer of 2012, her body was exhumed. The brothers were charged in 2014.
In their appeal, both brothers argue that the testimony against them was unreliable, made by people who had something to gain by lying, and should not have been allowed.
Paul Jones also argues that the trial should have been moved out of Newaygo County because of intense public interest and media attention.
Specifically, the defense argument names the documentary made by former Hope College Professor David Schock and a 24 Hour News 8 story that contained police descriptions of the so-called “rape kit” found on Paul Jones as having made it virtually impossible for the pair to get a fair trial in Newaygo.
The appeal also says cold case investigators had an influence in the community that impacted the ability to find impartial jurors.
State-appointed appeals attorneys and the assistant attorney general will make their arguments on Dec. 6 at the Grand Rapids branch of the Michigan Court of Appeals. It will be likely several months after that before a three-judge panel makes its decision.