Williams given life in prison for murder of Grosse Pointe Park woman

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published April 23, 2014

For murdering Sabrina Gianino, her former Grosse Pointe Park neighbor, Myron Tyronne Williams, 42, will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Williams was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the beating and strangulation death of Gianino, 35, whose boyfriend discovered her body just after midnight on May 16, 2013, on the floor of the Wayburn flat they shared. Third Circuit Court Judge Ulysses Boykin sentenced Williams to life in prison without parole on the count of first-degree felony murder during an emotional hearing April 23 at which a statement from Gianino’s mother, Verona Gianino, was read aloud by Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Molly Kettler.

Merri McGregor, of Harrison Township, one of Gianino’s close friends, read a separate impassioned letter that contained statements from nearly a dozen people. Verona Gianino, of Detroit, and several other loved ones of the victim fought tears during the hearing, and there was an audible gasp from the group when they learned that Williams would never be free again — something many of them specifically asked for from the court.

One of those friends, identified in the letter only as Natalie, wrote of her late friend: “Sabrina didn’t have much family, but she had the biggest heart of anyone I know.” Gianino was an only child, and her father died years ago.

McGregor called her lost friend “one of the kindest, gentlest, sweetest people in this world.” Many commented on Gianino’s love of animals as well as people, and the abandoned and ill cats she cared for and nursed back to health. Gianino was the head receptionist for a veterinarian in Grosse Pointe Park and was caring for six cats at her own flat — on Beaconsfield in the Park — at the time of her death.

Verona Gianino was too emotional to read her letter aloud herself, so Kettler read it for her.

“My daughter, Sabrina Dee Gianino, was a beautiful person inside and out. … I miss her each and every day,” her letter read, in part. “Sabrina was a very giving person. She was not just my daughter — she was my best friend.”

Friends said Gianino was compassionate, caring and someone they could share their laughter and tears with. Some also recalled her infectious laugh and her love of books and music.

A defiant Williams insisted he didn’t commit this crime, saying the Park Public Safety Department framed him for it. Police have said their investigation led them to conclude Williams was responsible for the murder.

“I sit in here (in court) day after day and listen to lie after lie. … I was railroaded from day one,” said Williams, vowing to appeal his conviction.

Park Public Safety Chief David Hiller said that “justice was served” in this case. As to the prospect of Williams’ appeal?

“Bring it on,” Hiller said outside the courtroom after the hearing.

A jury also found Williams guilty of second-degree murder, but because it was a conviction for the same killing, Boykin said that by law, he had to vacate that sentence. Williams was convicted of unarmed robbery, as well — police and prosecutors said he stole a laptop computer, iPhone, iPod and store gift card from Gianino, which they suggested was the motive for the murder. They presented evidence during the trial that showed Williams used these stolen goods to purchase crack cocaine from a nearby drug dealer in Detroit shortly after the murder was committed. For the robbery conviction, Boykin sentenced Williams to a minimum of eight years and four months in prison and a maximum of 15 years in prison.

“These sentences will run concurrently,” said Boykin, who noted that Williams was entitled to receive credit for 280 days in jail for time already served while awaiting trial.

Boykin awarded $3,300 to Gianino’s mother in restitution from Williams, to cover the cost of the victim’s funeral.

Kettler acknowledged that this was “a tough case” with no fingerprints or DNA evidence uncovered at the scene to show Williams was there.

“We’re just relieved that justice was done and he had his day of reckoning today for the crimes he’s committed,” Kettler said of Williams.