WXMI — In a stunning reversal, a key witness has walked back his own testimony in the 1989 homicide case of a Newaygo County teen.
Shannon Siders was just 18-years-old when her body was found in October of that year, months after she’d gone missing on July 17th, 1989.
A Newaygo County Circuit Court jury found brothers Matthew and Paul Jones guilty in 2015. Matthew Jones is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole on a first-degree murder conviction, Paul is serving 30-75 years on a conviction of second-degree murder.
The brothers claimed they drove Siders home after a night of partying, watched her go inside, and continued on with their night. But testimony from their 2015 trial from Dean Robinson, a key witness of the prosecution, claims Robinson came across the brothers on the night of July 17th in the wooded area near where Siders’ body was eventually found.
His original testimony states he later ran into the brothers again about two hours later, finding them standing near what he believed to be the body of Shannon Siders. Robinson claims the brothers assaulted him before Robinson left the scene.
In a sworn affidavit conducted in May of 2021, Robinson recants his statement entirely to broadcast journalist-turned-private-investigator Bill Proctor and claims his testimony was fed to him by law enforcement.
“I was lying under oath when I testified about any matter involving Matt or Paul Jones being involved in a homicide,” reads the affidavit, conducted around May 14, 2021. “My testimony during the trial of the above-captioned matter was given to my by law enforcement.”
“Moreover, I was not injured by Matt or Paul at any point in my life,” Robinson continues in the document. “Up until the point I testified during the trial, I had never met or seen Matt or Paul Jones.”
“Any of my testimony during the trial of the above-captioned matter implicating Matt or Paul Jones in a homicide was false,” he continues.
Robinson is currently behind bars, convicted of an assault charge for which he’s serving over a decade. Robinson was 19-years-old the night Siders disappeared.
“it is an incredible allegation, it is his allegation, but it could and should get a reexamination of this entire process and get the Jones brothers a new trial,” Proctor said. “The level of misconduct that he’s alleging is a pretty important part of this picture.”
Proctor has investigated roughly a dozen cold cases and posts all his updates on the Siders case on the website Who Killed Shannon Siders? Proctor has no relation or connection to the Siders family or the Jones brothers and said he was hired by someone inside the Jones’ family to further investigate their case. He said Robinson shared with him who it was inside the investigation that fed him the testimony, but Proctor wouldn’t divulge that to FOX17 on Monday.
“I’m not going to point any fingers here, except what we already know: that there were people who appear to be bad actors in this conviction, and they should be brough to justice if not account,” Proctor said.
Current Newaygo County Persecutor Worth Stay and Robert Springstead, who was Newaygo County Prosecutor during the 2015 trial and currently serves as chief judge of the 27th Circuit Court did not respond to requests for comment Monday.
Robert Higbee and Todd Perkins, attorney for Paul and Matthew Jones respectively, declined to comment directly on Monday.
“The lynchpin of the People’s case has admitted committing perjury as to every essential detail of his testimony at trial of this matter,” said Higbee in a memorandum to the 27th Circuit Court of Appeals. “Indeed, Dean Robinson, a witness absolutely essential to the People’s theory, knowingly lied at every turn when he implicated Paul and Matt Jones in the death of Shannon Siders. Against the backdrop, the Court cannot permit these convictions to stand…”
Speaking to FOX 17 via Zoom this week, Proctor called Robinson’s 2015 testimony ‘the foundation of the government’s case,’ and also pointed to a lack of physical evidence against the Jones brothers.
“She had hair clutched in her hand; the hair tested against the Jones brothers. No match. The police being able to put their hands on and actually take into custody the Jones brother’s car, showed no evidence of any violence inside that car. No evidence that any criminal activity took place there. There was no blood, no sign of a struggle,” Proctor said.
Proctor added that Robinson has a history of lying to authorities, something he believes should’ve been a consideration of prosecutors back then, and still should be now.
“Dean’s recorded history indicates that he has lied before,” he said. “The government knew that when they put him on the stand. So if the liar that they knew was good enough for sworn testimony then, why wouldn’t Dean’s statement now, in a sworn affidavit, be just as strong and respected on the same level?”
Proctor notes that the Jones’ defense team will face an uphill battle, having exhausted all of their appeals.
“Everybody in cases like this should stand back and wait to hear what’s real and the complete story, and the jurors didn’t get that,” Proctor said. “They didn’t know who some of the witnesses were and their backgrounds. And had they known that, I think they would’ve been as suspicious about what they had to say as I am right now.”