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Lawsuit: Royal Oak Murder Shows Flawed Parole System

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Tonia Watson, Alan Wood

Tonia Watson, Alan Wood

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PONTIAC (WWJ/AP) - The Michigan Department of Corrections didn’t properly supervise two parolees charged in last year’s slaying of an 80-year-old woman in Royal Oak and should make statewide changes to improve oversight, according to a new lawsuit.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Oakland County Circuit Court in Pontiac also is against unnamed parole officers, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Alan Wood and Tonia Watson have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Nancy Dailey, who was found tied up in her  home Nov. 20, 2011. Authorities said the parolees befriended Dailey and did yard work for her, then robbed her and slit her throat.

It was a crime that stirred fear and uncertainty in a community where many had felt safe, prompting a call for a “No Knock” list that would prevent strangers from coming to residents’ doors.

Wood and Watson are expected to stand trial next year.

Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan, in an email Wednesday to The Associated Press, said the agency can’t comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit is on behalf of Nan Drinkard, Dailey’s niece and representative of her estate. It seeks monetary damages and requests that the court require the department “to immediately adopt policies, procedures and customs, as well as adequate staffing, to prevent further injuries to the public.”

Corrections officials cited Wood for parole violations a month before the killing, but he wasn’t ordered held. And records have shown that agents knew authorities suspected Wood and Watson in two thefts that preceded the killing in which a gun was stolen and credit cards were taken.

“They had multiple opportunities to make sure that these very dangerous people were locked up and, despite overwhelming evidence that they were violating their parole and that they were a danger to Nancy Dailey and other seniors, they chose to ignore that risk,” said James Rasor, one of Drinkard’s lawyers.

The department supervises roughly 70,000 parolees and probationers.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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