DETROIT (WJBK) - A man who beat a murder charge almost ten years ago at a Lathrup Village restaurant is now going to prison for an unrelated crime.
Jerome Hamilton was identifed by two other men as the trigger man in the 2008 murder of Catherine Solinski-Blain, who was shot to death outside Rib Rack in Lathrup Village. He was 15 at the time and was acquitted on all charges. Now, he's going to prison on other charges.
Hamilton is now 24 and was identified as the leader of the Detroit chapter of a gang known as the Rollin60's Crips. The gang is responsible for murders, carjackings, firebombings, and drugs, according to prosecutors. The ATF was hot on his trail and he was charged and convicted with racketeering and possession of a weapon causing death. Friday, he was sentenced to 30 years behind bars.
"He came from a solid home with two parents that cared for him. He even went to college. It's amazing that someone like him would have chosen a life to engage in violent crime and victimize innocent victims," ATF agent Jon Ortiz said.
Hamilton was first identified in the high profile 2008 murder. He was one of three men who faced murder charges after the killing of Solinski-Blain, who was shot and killed in October of 2008, outside the Rib Rack restaurant in Lathrup Village.
Two suspects in that case were charged with her murder but Hamilton was not. More than 8 years later the victim's mother in that case sat in Federal court to watch him learn his fate.
"I'm thankful for the ATF and my friends over there from the Oakland County sheriff's office for sticking with this case so I could get justice and for the other people," Constance Solinski said.
She's not the only one who is thinking about the 2008 murder. Hamilton's family believes that case affected this one.
"And they're coming back after him to get something on him. I've known the man all of his life and he's not the person he's made out to be," said Curtis Williams, Hamilton's cousin.
But the evidence was too clear for the jury and evidence against him piled up. Ultimately, Hamilton pleaded guilty to two of the counts. According to the feds, the proof was in his social media posts where he directed others to kill, firebomb and hurt others - and even while in jail, he directed his friend to do the dirty work.
Once he was acquitted in the Rib Rack Case, the feds say he went right back to what he did before.
The prosecution was asking for 35 years and said that was generous. The judge, pointed to Hamilton's potential for rehabilitation through vocational training as one reason to sentence him to 30 years instead.
When Hamilton was 15, he was the leader of the gang and led some 160 members. But he also later attended college. He had every chance to make a life for himself, a loving family, education and strong leadership skills. He used those skills to run a dangerous gang responsible for murder and fear, the ATF says.
"He chose to lead that life. If you make a choice to engage in violent crime and victimize people in poor neighborhoods in Detroit, at some point we are going to catch up with you. Bottom line," Ortiz said.
As for Constance, she feels she finally got justice for her daughter, even though it's later.
"Yes, I do. I just wished it had been earlier," Constance said.