Life Sentences for Jackson County Couple

Life Sentences for Jackson County Couple

By FOX 47 News. CREATED Aug 9, 2012

JACKSON - A Jackson County couple is sentenced to spend the rest of their lives in prison for the murders of two men. Richard Janish and Barbara Mercer received life sentences Thursday for their conviction by a jury of the second degree murder of Shemel Thomas and Anthony Hannah.

Prosecutors say the murders were in retaliation to a threat made by Shemel Thomas, after Mercer refused to pay him $150 during a crack-cocaine drug deal. Investigators say Janish admitted to using a shotgun to kill Thomas and Hannah in Janish's Leoni Township home on Halloween night, 2011. They drove the bodies to the Schlee Waterfowl Area in Grass Lake Township, and then set the car on fire with the bodies of Thomas and Hannah inside.

Prosecutors had asked for first degree murder convictions for each, but the jury acquitted the two of those charges.

Along with the life sentence, Janish was sentenced to up to 22 years for manslaughter, 10-15 years for tampering with evidence, and 5-7 1/2 years for arson. Barbara Mercer received 6-10 years for tampering with evidence and 3-5 years for arson.