Granholm reverses own sentence commutation

Matthew Makowski

Times-Herald Newspapers

LANSING – Gov. Jennifer Granholm on Dec. 22 commuted the sentence of a local man convicted of first-degree murder in 1988, but reversed her decision two days later after hearing from the victim’s family.

Matthew Makowski, 43, of Lincoln Park, nearly got his first taste of freedom in more than two decades, but the reversal kept him behind bars as he continues to serve his life-without-parole sentence in prison.

Makowski was jailed after setting up the robbery of a friend 22 years ago in which the thief stabbed 19-year-old Pietro “Pete” Puma outside a Dearborn health club where both men worked. Makowski was Puma’s boss and arranged the robbery for a time when he knew Puma would have a $700 check with him.

Puma, a 1987 Edsel Ford High School graduate, died from the injuries suffered during the robbery.

Admitting to arranging the robbery with two other people, Makowski said he didn’t know the thief was carrying a knife, and that he was not present during the incident.

John Schlinker, who is serving as Makowski’s lawyer in the commutation case, issued a statement late Dec. 27 questioning Granholm’s changed decision and hinting that a lawsuit could be in the making.

The state Attorney General and Wayne County Prosecutor’s offices both had opposed the commutation request from the start.

Granholm, who reportedly wanted to take care of any unfinished business before she left office, turned over the gubernatorial reins to Rick Snyder on Saturday.

Schlinker told the media last week that he might make additional comments on the case this week.

(Contact Chris Jackett at