Man gets probation for accessory role in West Bloomfield woman's murder

A man was sentenced to probation Thursday for his role in the murder of a West Bloomfield woman found in the trunk of her burned car.

Jaylen Stringer, 18, was charged with evidence tampering and accessory after the fact in relation to homicide for his role in 31-year-old Diana Pesserl's murder.

Police say Stringer's co-defendant, Deshaun Smith, was visiting Stringer when he went outside to smoke. Smith had an encounter with Pesserl and shot her in the stomach, according to police. He's then accused of putting her body in the trunk of her 2007 Hyundai Sonota and setting it on fire to cover up the murder behind the old Pine Lake Elementary School.

Second man charged after West Bloomfield woman found dead, burning in car 

Officials say Smith returned to Stringer's home and told him what had happened, saying Diana tried to grab his gun so he had to shoot her. Police say Stringer had a role in aiding and supporting Smith's attempt to evade arrest. Detectives later found a .38 caliber pistol and 10 rounds of ammunition in heating vents in the family room of Stringer's home.

Smith was arrested in 2016 and charged with murder and arson. He was sentenced to life in prison in July.

On Thursday, Stringer was sentenced to 5 years’ probation and 500 hours of community service. He must wear a GPS tether and abide by a curfew between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Before the sentencing, Diana's mother had an opportunity to speak.

Second suspect in West Bloomfield murder charged with tampering, accessory

"My grandson Emmett, Diana's son, used to go play with her in that schoolyard -- the same one where the body of his mom was burned inside of her car. He will no longer go there to play. I cannot take him there. I cannot even turn that way to exit my house in the direction of where my daughter was murdered," she said.

She said it's impossible to tell how many ways her daughter's murder has affected the family's life. She says she is afraid of running into members of Stringer's family around town, but she's unable to get a mortgage and the family shared good memories with Diana at that home.

"I don't know how we'll ever be able to explain this to Emmett as he grows up and I don't know how he is going to take it as he becomes more and more aware of the truth," she said.

18-year-old Desean Smith charged with West Bloomfield woman's murder

Jaylen took his opportunity to speak to Diana's family.

"From the bottom of my heart and everything that I am made of, I do regret everything that I did and everything that happened. I want to tell you face-to-face that. If I could've, I would've done anything to stop what happened from happening," he said.

Stringer said he did not know that Smith was on the path that he was on.

"I stopped hanging out with him a few years ago because he was getting into trouble -- a decision by me and my dad. But Deshaun came back into our lives because he reached out to us and he wanted us to help him and go to school and work with us," he said.

He said the incident was something he couldn't have stopped because he didn't see it coming.

Oakland Circuit Court Judge James Alexander said this was it was a hard decision to make.

"It's all well and good what you said now and I hope that it's from your heart and I hope that you mean it, but Mr. Smith showed up to your house, you helped him hide the gun, you helped him throw away the ... casing, you washed his clothes, you took him to 7-Eleven after he'd killed somebody and set her on fire, oh my God," he said.

He said he did take in account Stringer ended up helping the police. Stringer was given a 5-year probation sentence, but Judge Alexander said if any violations occur, he will be sent to prison for 5 years.

"You're going to take responsibility for what happened."