Parole agents' handling of Royal Oak murder suspects probed

ROYAL OAK (AP) -- The Michigan Department of Corrections said it has suspended two parole agents with pay while it investigates whether two parolees charged with killing an 80-year-old woman at her suburban Detroit home in November should have been locked up at the time of the slaying.

The agents supervising Alan Wood, 48, and Tonia Watson, 40, passed up numerous opportunities last year to return the pair to prison, the Detroit Free Press reported recently, citing a review of records involving the pair.

Corrections officials cited Wood for three parole violations a month before the Nov. 20 killing of Nancy Dailey in her Royal Oak home, but they turned him loose. And records show agents knew authorities suspected Wood and Watson in two thefts that preceded the killing in which a gun was stolen from a Berkley home and credit cards were taken from a Royal Oak home.

Wood and Watson are charged with first-degree murder in the death of Dailey, whose hands were bound and whose throat was slashed. They are being held pending the resumption of a preliminary hearing March 16. If convicted, they face automatic life in prison without parole.

Lawyer Jack Holmes, who has represented Watson since December, said Tuesday that he wasn't familiar with details of her time on parole. He confirmed the timeline that put the two thefts before the killing, and said Watson had nothing to do with the Berkeley theft in which the gun was stolen.

Elias Escobedo, an attorney for Wood, said in an email that he has no involvement in the Corrections Department matter and wasn't in a position to comment. As for the homicide case, Escobedo said he was awaiting all the evidence from prosecutors and declined to comment further about it.

MDOC spokesman John Cordell said that an internal investigation is under way to determine whether any work rules or department policies were violated regarding the supervision of Wood and Watson. He confirmed that the two employees were suspended with pay.

Other disciplinary action could follow, he said, and steps have been taken to better target parole violators and parole absconders.

The department said in an email it "was deeply saddened and outraged at the brutal, senseless murder." The MDOC said: "It was a tragic event beyond measure. And the fact that offenders under our supervision have been charged with the murder troubles us greatly."

Police have said Dailey was beaten to force her to disclose her bank card PIN. Wood and Watson were arrested two days after the killing at a Meijer store in Wayne County's Canton Township. They were planning to leave the state that day, police said.

Records show Wood's past convictions included home invasion, while Watson's convictions included had gun and stolen property crimes. Both were paroled in 2010.

Published: Wed, Feb 8, 2012