In December of last year, we wrote about the murder of 71-year-old David Maurer, an Ann Arbor man living in a senior community who had been robbed and was found dead inside his apartment. Now, one of the three defendants in the case has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
Mark Paling, a 19-year-old resident of Melvindale, agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder, larceny in a building, and conspiracy to commit unarmed robbery in exchange for dismissal of charges of larceny of weapons and unarmed robbery, according to a news article at Mlive.com. Second-degree murder is punishable by a maximum of life in prison, however the judge in the case agreed to sentence Paling to a maximum of 40 years in prison as part of the plea deal.
Paling and his co-defendants, Richard Thompson and Rikky Ranger, met the victim through Grindr, a gay dating app. Maurer met the three young men on November 23 at Melvindale, who followed Maurer back to his apartment for an evening of partying – drinking, smoking marijuana, and according to one of the defendants, engaging in sexual activity.
Paling testified that Thompson actually killed Maurer after he got the elderly man in a chokehold. Paling admitted that he gave Thompson a signal, but said that he and Ranger began stealing the victim’s property, which included money from a safe, an iBook laptop, and cellphone.
Paling said that he did not know that Maurer was dead after Thompson got the man in a chokehold, but that Thompson kicked the victim, who did not move. The autopsy supported that Maurer’s death was due to strangulation, according to attorneys who confirmed the fact in court.
As part of the plea deal, Paling also agree to testify against Ranger and Thompson; it has not yet been determined whether either of the co-defendants are competent to stand trial, as both are alleged to suffer from cognitive issues. All three of the defendants remain in jail.
In some cases, it is beneficial for a defendant to accept a plea agreement from prosecutors, particularly when the evidence to support a conviction is overwhelming. In this case, had Paling not accepted the plea deal he may have spent the rest of his life behind bars. According to the news article, Judge Darlene O’Brien set the minimum number of years Paling will serve at 22 1/2 years. Whether a defendant should accept a plea agreement or maintain his/her innocence and proceed to trial depends on whether the defendant is in fact innocent of the charges, and what the defendant and his/her attorney determine to be the best approach in terms of punishment.
If you have been accused of a serious or violent crime such as murder, robbery, or kidnapping, it is critical to consult with an experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney. Your lawyer will work closely with you to determine the most effective strategy to avoid prison time and ruin of your career and reputation, seeking positive results.