By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
SOUTHGATE — A man found guilty — but mentally ill — of stabbing his mother to death was sentenced to a minimum of 23 years in prison.
James Alan Shields, 54, was sentenced Wednesday by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Richard Skutt to a sentence of 23 to 50 years in prison. Shields had pleaded guilty earlier this month to second-degree murder, with acknowledgment of mental illness.
Court officials said Shields was transferred from court to the custody of the Michigan Department of Corrections, which will determine placement in the prison system and any potential treatment. Shields has been given several competency evaluations since first arraigned in July 2012 and charged with first-degree homicide.
Police had responded to a neighbor’s call from the 12300 block of Longtin, where Irene Shields, 86, had been found at the bottom of a flight of stairs. Shields was located and taken into custody the next day, and police and prosecutors said he had stabbed his mother multiple times causing her death.
Although Shields had no prior history with law enforcement — nor had any domestic disturbance calls been previously heard from the Shields home — prosecution on the matter was delayed several times. Evaluations as ordered by both the 28th District Court and Wayne County Circuit Court reported that Shields was unable to understand the charges or participate in his own defense.
In September, after treatment at a forensic psychiatric facility, Shields was declared competent for trial, which had been scheduled to begin next month before defense council and prosecutors agreed to this month’s guilty plea.
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected])