Highland Township man faces life in prison if convicted of mother's murder

21-year-old Jeffrey Pyne accused of beating, stabbing 51-year-old Ruth Pyne to death at Highland Township home

PONTIAC, Mich. - Jeffrey Pyne walked into court Friday wearing a suit and shackles.

The former high school valedictorian and University of Michigan student faces life in prison if convicted of murdering his 51-year-old mother, Ruth Pyne. He faces a first-degree murder charge.

Ruth was found beaten and stabbed to death May 27, 2011 in the garage of the Pyne family's home in Highland Township. Her then 10-year-old daughter and husband made the discovery.

"He took a 2x4 ... took that, and he was holding it, and he hit her in the back of the head. And he hit her again. And again," said Assistant Prosecutor John Skrzynski.

But Jeffrey's attorney, James Champion, said evidence will show his client had nothing to do with Ruth's death.

Jeffrey, now 21, wiped away tears Friday as he listened to a 911 audio recording. The evidence shows a call was made at 2:36 p.m. that day in 2011. Jeffrey had clocked into work at Spicers Orchard 20 minutes later with injuries to his hands. Ruth's husband, Bernie Pyne, had made the call.

"My wife, she's laying in the garage. There's blood everywhere. I don't know what's going on," Bernie told the 911 dispatcher.

Ruth had a history of mental illness. Her relationship with family members was rocky. However, Bernie says his son is not capable of murder.

-- Ruth Pyne

"He had nothing to do with this. He would never harm his mother. He loved his mother," said Bernie. "I don't believe that I'm a naive, unthinking father that's just hoping that his son isn't guilty. I truly ... I know my son and I know he is not capable of this. I know he would never harm his mother."

Nine months before Ruth was killed she was jailed for attempting to strangle Jeffery. She had been committed to a mental hospital. Her medication was changed by doctors just days before her murder.

The prosecution plans to argue that Jeffrey was angry with his mother at the time of her murder. The defense says there is no evidence that links their client to Ruth's death. The trial is expected to last three weeks.

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