Judge gives man probation in suspected burglar's death

DETROIT (AP) -- A man who chased a suspected burglar for two blocks before killing him was sentenced to probation last Friday by a judge who reduced the second-degree murder charge to manslaughter and said the gunman was "enraged" and "hopeless."

Tigh Croff, 32, of Detroit, received a mandatory two-year prison sentence for using a gun during a crime but could have received more time behind bars for the death of Herbert Silas.

There was no dispute that Croff, a security guard and victim of home break-ins, chased Silas, caught him and shot him on Detroit's east side in December 2009. Croff said Silas taunted him.

Silas gave a "mercy look," and "I told him he was going to die and I shot him," Croff told police, according to their report.

Croff said in court that he regretted his actions. "My way was not the right way. ... I have to pay for taking one of my brothers off this earth," he said.

But Wayne County Circuit Judge Daniel Hathaway was lenient. He chose probation, although state guidelines had called for a prison sentence of up to 5 1/2 years for manslaughter.

"He felt violated, frustrated," Hathaway said. "He was enraged. He felt hopeless."

Croff was charged with second-degree murder, but Hathaway reduced it to manslaughter during a first trial last summer. It ended in a mistrial when jurors couldn't reach a verdict. Croff was found guilty in a second trial in January.

In a statement, county prosecutor Kym Worthy said she would appeal the "extremely inappropriate" sentence. The trial prosecutor, Molly Kettler, said vigilante justice can't stand.

Published: Tue, Feb 22, 2011