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'Slipped through the cracks': Suspect in Grand Blanc teen's Detroit murder was wanted man

Posted at 10:17 PM, Aug 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-12 23:14:59-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — We are learning more about the man accused of murdering Grand Blanc teen Jacob Hills in July.

The teen was found in the basement of an apartment building on West Warren Street in Detroit.

Twenty-three-year-old Avion Sanders was arraigned in a Wayne County court Friday morning.

Police say Hills had just bought a new rifle and took it out with him when he met up with friends.

"It wasn't responsible for him to take it to Detroit, not sure why he did it," said Sadie Hills, Jacob's mom.

Sadie Hills said her son met Sanders through mutual friends.

To this day, she still doesn't know what happened in his final moments, just that he never made it home.

"It's like I spend all day trying to put myself together just to fall apart again," Sadie Hills said. "Day after day."

Sanders allegedly stole Jacob Hills’ gun, shot the teen then abandoned the victim’s car outside a hookah lounge in Dearborn Heights.

"He was shot in the back multiple times. I mean, look him in the face at least," Sadie Hills said. "And then this monster can just walk away."

7 Action News has learned from the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office that back in October of 2020, Sanders was arrested after barricading himself in a home.

Police say he fired shots at his then-girlfriend while her child was close by. Neither were hurt, but police found multiple shell casings at the scene.

In 2021 Sanders originally was charged with assault with intent to murder, receiving and concealing a stolen firearm, assault with a dangerous weapon, resisting and obstructing a police officer, four counts of felony firearm, fourth-degree child abuse and domestic violence.

All but one charge was dismissed because his ex-girlfriend never showed up to court.

He was convicted of resisting and obstructing an officer.

"I would have to say knowing this is a domestic assault situation with a weapon, this is an individual that should have been closely monitored even though he wasn't found guilty of those serious offenses," said Anjali Prasad, a criminal defense attorney at Prasad Legal. "He was convicted on something."

Prasad is also a former federal prosecutor.

Related: Family sheds light on death of Grand Blanc 18-year-old shot in Detroit

The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office says when Sanders was found guilty, his tether was removed, meaning they could no longer keep tabs on him.

He was also granted bond.

Sanders never showed up to his pre-sentencing hearing in December of 2021 and then he failed to show again in February. A bench warrant was later issued for his arrest.

Prasad doesn't understand why Sanders was granted so much freedom.

"This is a defendant who slipped through the cracks of the criminal justice system," Prasad said. "He was literally missing for months and nobody acted on it and now, it is too late for the victim."

The assistant district attorney for Wayne County says Sanders was only facing probation in connection to that 2021 charge. She says that may be why his tether was removed.

Sadie Hills says she can't help but be angry that police never picked him up.

"I know if those other charges had stuck, he would have been in jail and my son would still be alive right now," Sadie Hills said.