MUSKEGON — A Michigan man sentenced to up to 60 years in prison in 1996 for a marijuana-dealing conviction is hoping to cut his remaining time behind bars.
Michael Thompson, 68, of Flint, has served nearly 25 years of his sentence and won't have a chance for parole until he's in his late 80s, WNEM-TV reported.
Thompson was denied clemency by then-Gov. Rick Snyder two years ago, but now a movement called "Free Michael Thompson" has gained traction. It includes a website dedicated to sending emails and letters, as well as making calls to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
"I can't die in here," Thompson said in a phone interview from Muskegon Correctional Facility. "For what? Some marijuana and some guns in a locked closet?"
Investigators say Thompson sold 3 pounds (1 kilogram) of marijuana to an undercover informant in Michigan, where the drug is now legal for recreational use.
"They stacked the gun charges on top of the marijuana charge as if they were used in the sale of weed and, in fact, it wasn't," said Kimberly Corral, Thompson's attorney.
Thompson wasn't supposed to own any weapons because he had prior nonviolent drug crimes. That's when Michigan's Habitual Offender Law kicked in. Thompson's former drug convictions pushed his maximum sentence to 60 years. Judge Judith Fullerton put the minimum at 40 years.
Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton told the TV station that he is willing to work with Thompson's attorneys to see what can be done for Thompson's case.
"Forty to 60 years is a harsh sentence even in a second-degree murder case," Leyton said.
Thompson only hopes he could have seen his family one last time.
"I've lost a lot. I've lost my only son. He was my best friend. And I loved him. My favorite nephew. I lost my mother and my father. All these losses for what? I'm in here, and I didn't kill anyone,” Thompson said.