Parole Board Reverses Decision, will Not Parole Convicted Murderer who Assaulted Prison Guards While in Prison
For Immediate Release
July 13, 2018
Parole Board reverses decision, will not parole convicted murderer who assaulted prison guards and prisoner while in prison
Prosecutor Eric J. Smith appealed the parole release of Thomas Brandon Zeller in May, and last week the Michigan Parole Board reversed its decision to release Zeller, so that it can get an updated psychological evaluation, which will delay his parole for a year. While he was already in prison for second degree murder, Zeller was convicted of assault with intent to do great bodily harm and of assaulting a prison employee. He also received 31 misconduct violations. He has been in prison 19 years. Zeller threatened to kill a female corrections employee.
The Parole Board previously granted parole to Zeller and set a release date of June 5, 2018. Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Michael Servitto put the parole on hold, pending Smith’s appeal.
Smith raised serious concerns about the prisoner’s mental health, and the mental health treatment he received, in a brief filed with the circuit court. The prisoner thought of “killing someone” so he would not have to eat with other prisoners, failed to attend scheduled health care appointments, and has mental health issues, according to his Michigan Department of Corrections Central Office File. Smith also raised concerns about a parole condition requiring mental health treatment upon release, without an indication in the record as to when, where or even if such mental health treatment will occur, or even when an assessment will be done, if at all. The recent Parole Board decision indicates an assessment will now be done.
The circuit court appeal before Judge Servitto will likely be dismissed as “moot” now that the Parole Board is no longer releasing Zeller.
“On behalf of our deceased brother, the family thanks Prosecutor Smith for all the efforts he and his team put into the appeal. We appreciate that we were kept informed of the process, and their patience with our questions since this past April,” said a grateful family member of the victim.
Macomb County Prosecutor Eric J. Smith stated, “This case shows prisoners need appropriate mental health treatment before release. The Parole Board deserves credit for reversing this parole to do a psychological review. How can we expect this prisoner to be crime free when paroled, when he has continued to be violent while in prison?”
In 1998, the crime victim was pronounced dead from multiple fatal stab wounds to his chest area. Zeller fled the scene after arguing with him over a $200 dispute. In front of eyewitnesses, Zeller threatened to stab the victim and then did exactly that. He admitted to stabbing the victim over money. At the time of the offense, the prisoner considered himself a “skin head” and claimed affiliation with an Aryan group, which affiliation he has since renounced. Zeller was sentenced to 15 – 30 years for second degree murder. He has been in prison over 18 years.
Zeller’s next parole review date is June 4, 2019.