In May of 2012, Bradford S. Mitchell was convicted of second-degree murder in the January 2011 beating death of Jay Kolhoff. Now, the Michigan Court of Appeals has reversed Mitchell’s conviction, clearing the way for a new trial.
Mitchell, a Saginaw resident, was charged by prosecutors with open murder after it was alleged that he was responsible for the death of Kolhoff, who lived in the same apartment complex in Saginaw’s West Side. According to a video-recorded police interview, Kolhoff owed Mitchell $5. When Mitchell went to Kolhoff’s apartment to collect the money, Kolhoff allegedly brought out a baseball bat, then swung it and struck Mitchell in the face. Mitchell told detectives that he eventually grabbed the baseball bat from the victim, then struck him once in the shoulder and once in the head, although he admitted he may have hit him more times.
Upon finding Kolhoff’s body, his best friend Mark Yelle said that there were stab wounds on the back of Kolhoff’s neck, according to a news article at Mlive.com.
Ultimately, Appeals Court appellate judges found that the jury in Mitchell’s trial should have been given the option to convict the defendant of voluntary manslaughter. In the original trial, Mitchell was convicted of carrying a dangerous weapon with unlawful intent; the judges vacated this conviction after interpreting a statute.
Appellate judges found that prosecutors must demonstrate that the defendant killed in the heat of passion, that the passion was caused by adequate provocation, and there was not a lapse of time during which a reasonable person could control his passions in order to prove voluntary manslaughter. They went on to say that provocation is a circumstance that negates the presence of malice rather than an element of voluntary manslaughter.
During Mitchell’s trial, the jury asked Saginaw County Circuit Judge Robert L. Kaczmarek whether first- and second-degree murder were their only conviction options, which the judge confirmed. The appellate judges found that Kaczmarek erred in this case.
As is evidenced in this case, judges in criminal cases do make errors. Michigan criminal appeals attorneys understand that having a conviction reversed is not an easy task to accomplish, and requires the skill and expertise of an attorney experienced in this complex area of criminal defense.
Individuals who feel they have been wrongly convicted must take action immediately by discussing your situation with a seasoned Michigan criminal appeals lawyer.