Babb sentenced to prison

Thomas D. Babb may spend the final days of his life looking through the iron bars of a prison cell - that is, unless he lives past his 90th birthday.

The 38-year-old Evart man left the Isabella County Jail on Tuesday morning and was transported to the Southern Michigan Correctional Facility in Jackson, where he began serving a lengthy prison sentence for his involvement in the shooting death of his estranged wife earlier this year.

On Monday, Isabella County Trial Judge William R. Rush sentenced Babb to serve a minimum of 52 years, or a maximum of 77 years, in a state prison.

Babb's second-degree murder charge earned him a minimum of 50 years, or a maximum of 75 years, in prison. The additional two years were tacked onto Babb's prison term for a felony firearm charge.

"It was clear in my mind that Babb deserved a sentence that would insure his final days are spent behind bars," said Isabella County Prosecutor Larry Burdick. "Thirty-five years probably would have done that, but 50 years, plus the two additional years for the felony firearm charge ensures he is not eligible for parole until he is 90 years old. That accomplishes what both the family and myself wanted to achieve."

Both the defense and prosecution agreed to a plea deal on Oct. 5, which stated the minimum prison sentence Babb could serve for his second-degree murder charge was 35 years.

"I made it a specific part of the plea agreement that he (Babb) could not be sentenced to life, in that, for second-degree murder, an inmate is eligible for parole after 15 years," Burdick said.

With Babb's attorney, Jeffrey Clothier of Flint, vying for the 35-year minimum sentence and Burdick appealing for a 54-year minimum sentence, Rush ruled in favor of a 50-year minimum sentence for the second-degree murder charge.

"I was actually surprised that he (Rush) didn't go to the high end of the guidelines," Clothier said.

Babb initially will reside in the Southern Michigan Correctional Facility, where all new prison inmates are taken for orientation and classification, Burdick said.

"At the conclusion of his processing, the Department of Corrections will determine whether to maintain him there in Jackson, or send him to another facility in Michigan," Burdick said.

Because Babb was lodged inside the Isabella County Jail only hours after the murder of his estranged wife, he has already served 292 days in jail, which will be credited toward his prison sentence.

Mary Lynn Babb was killed Jan. 9 in the Commerce Center parking lot, 711 W. Pickard Road.

Mary Babb, who worked as an advertising representative for the Morning Sun, was leaving work when her husband rammed his Chevrolet pickup into her sport utility vehicle, causing her vehicle to flip.

According to witness testimony, Thomas Babb then walked over to the window of the overturned vehicle, and with a shotgun in hand, fired twice inside - the first shot shattered the window, while the second ended Mary Babb's life.

She was pronounced dead upon her arrival at Central Michigan Community Hospital, 1221 South Drive.

Thomas Babb fled the scene, but was arrested by officers from the Michigan State Police Reed City Post after they found his vehicle that evening in an Osceola County ditch.

After visiting his client inside his jail cell following Monday's sentencing, Clothier said Babb still did not remember killing his wife.

"He knows what's going on, but it's almost like he's in a daze," Clothier said. "He had been abusing cocaine, alcohol, tons of prescription medications."

Mary Babb had filed for divorce from Thomas Babb prior to her death, citing numerous threats and assaults.