Articles Posted in Homicide

Original Case Details

Deandre Williams, a 28-year-old man from Detroit stands accused of killing a Wayne County Sheriff’s deputy in the Wayne County Jail while he was being held on carjacking and weapons charges. Cpl. Bryant Searcy was killed as he made his rounds checking cell doors in the Wayne County Jail. According to authorities, Searcy closed a door he thought was locked and continued walking in an attempt to secure the next areas of the jail. The door unfortunately wasn’t locked, and Williams allegedly jumped out and attacked Searcy, choking him and beating him, finally taking Searcy’s keys to try to escape. Williams allegedly acted alone in attacking the Wayne County Deputy and attempting to escape from the Wayne County Jail. Deputies found Searcy unresponsive and had him transported to the hospital where he later died.

Criminal Charges for Alleged Cop Killer

Original Case Details

Kiernan Brown, a 28-year-old Delta Township man recently withdrew his guilty pleas after being accused of beating two women to death and was reportedly also looking to kill others on a killing spree. He stands accused of trying to break into his ex-girlfriend’s house during May 2019 before attempting to complete a plan to kill four different women. He was allegedly successful in killing Kaylee Brock in her home in Holt, MI and Julie Mooney in a motel room in Meridian Township on the same day. Medical examiner results showed that both women died from blunt force trauma from numerous blows to the head. Sheriff’s deputies later pulled Brown over on the freeway and Brown allegedly confessed to the murders and even showed the deputies pictures of the bodies of the victims on his cell phone. Brown was also on parole at the time of the offense for a strangulation felony and domestic violence charges. He was also accused of violating a personal protection order that was in place against him from a former girlfriend.

Judge Aquilina’s Rejects Plea Deal

Original Case Details

Mubarez Ahmed was convicted back in March 2002 of the murders of Lavelle Griffin and LaTanya White in a drive-by shooting on the west side of Detroit. He was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years and a maximum of 60 years for his convictions. He since served 17 years of his convictions before new evidence came to light that the officer on the case, Sgt. Ernest Wilson, fabricated evidence against Ahmed and lied under oath at his trial. An investigation by the University of Michigan Law School Innocence Clinic and the Wayne County Conviction Integrity Unit resulted in the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office recommending that Ahmed’s murder charges being dismissed, resulting in his release from state prison on September 6, 2018. Ahmed has since filed a lawsuit against both officer Ernest Wilson personally, as well as the city of Detroit for their actions which led to his improper incarceration for 17+ years.

Qualified Immunity Generally

For many in the criminal justice system, one case that stands out is the Atlanta Child Murders as it was a case that shook our nation. From May of 1979 to July of 1981 there were 29 children that were murdered in Atlanta, Georgia. The victims were all young black males and it was believed that 23-year-old Wayne Williams was responsible for the murders. Nearly 40 years after the tragedy, there has remained many doubts on the murders.

On March 21, 2019, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields announced that officials would re-test evidence from the murders, which will be gathered by the Atlanta Police Department, Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, and Georgia Bureau of Investigation. In a news conference, Mayor Bottoms said, “It may be there is nothing left to be tested. But I do think history will judge us by our actions and we will be able to say we tried.” Below is a list of the murdered children, the date of their disappearance and the cause of their deaths.

Name – Age- Date of Disappearance – Cause of Death – Case Status

Original Case Details

A man charged with the murder and mutilation of a 25-year old man in Shiawasee County has been found incompetent to stand trial. The victim was found in a secret room in the defendant’s basement just after Christmas day of 2019. Investigators found the victim was stabbed in the back and hung from his ankles. The victim’s throat was also slashed, and parts of his body were allegedly eaten by the defendant. Police records show that 2 other men had previously been held captive in the same basement of the defendant but managed to get away. Neither of these previous men wanted to file charges due to being scared and wanting the incident to remain private. The defendant has since been evaluated by the state’s Center for Forensic Psychiatry and been declared incompetent to stand trial. This is an extremely rare outcome as insanity defenses are rarely used and only a small percentage of insanity defenses result in the defendant being declared incompetent to stand trial.

What Is Competency?

Case History

In a case that is described as one of the biggest of its kind, an Ohio doctor has been charged with murder relating to the deaths of 25 patients under his care. He has been indicted with 25 counts of murder relating to these patients. He is accused of ordering large doses of painkilling medication to patients that were nearing the end of their lives. Many of these patients were on ventilators or other devices helping them stay alive. These patients died during a three-year period from 2015-2018. None of the staff who actually administered the painkillers are facing criminal charges since the theory is that they were ordered to give these doses by the doctor, and they were just doing their jobs. The prosecutor in this case likened what the doctor did to blowing out a candle that is nearly out. He said, “the candle, while there may be just a half an inch of wax left, if I blow that candle out, I’m causing that flame to go out sooner than it would naturally.” The defense has looked to paint a different picture. The doctor’s attorney has stated that the doctor was trying to provide comfort care to these patients and was not attempting to euthanize anyone. He further said that these patients were soon going to die whether they were being treated by this doctor or someone else. The local health system reviewed medical records relating to this doctor and stated that he ordered potentially fatal doses to 29 patients. The case will hinge on whether the prosecution is able to prove that the doctor deliberately tried to essentially euthanize his patients with painkiller overdoses.

The Danger Of Fentanyl

A Grand Blanc, MI man was convicted of second-degree murder for the stabbing death of his wife. He was convicted back in 2017 due to evidence that he knocked her over the head with a flashlight and stabbed her six times with a military style knife. One of the stabs was directly into the victim’s heart. He then took selfie videos after the incident confessing to killing her, but never called 911 or any other help. The judge presiding later sentenced the 46-year old man to a minimum of 50 years in state prison before any eligibility for parole.

In the state of Michigan, a prosecutor can charge what is called “open murder” which gives a jury different options as to which murder charge is most appropriate if any. In the current case, the decision was made by the jury to convict on second-degree murder instead of first-degree murder. The reason this is important in the current case is that when a jury convicts on first-degree murder, the sentence is pretty much set as life or any term of years. If a jury comes back with a verdict finding that the defendant is guilty of second-degree murder, then the judge in the case has wide latitude in determining sentence due to sentencing guidelines. The judge here decided to far exceed the sentencing guidelines as the defendant had a sentencing guideline minimum of 13.5 years. The Michigan court of appeals has now said that the judge went too far in sentencing the defendant to a minimum of 50 years and sent the case back to the trial court for resentencing.

What Are Sentencing Guidelines?

In the state of Michigan, the most serious of crimes is the first-degree murder statute. With a conviction of this crime, the Defendant faces life in prison without the possibility of parole and more often than not, the prosecutor on the case will not be allowed to offer a beneficial plea to the Defendant. This means that the criminal defense lawyer needs to be prepared to take the case to trial if they choose to take on this challenge. Hiring the right criminal lawyer for such a charge is essential if the Defendant is to have a chance at freedom. When a prosecutor brings a charge of first-degree murder, it is their burden to prove the following elements:

1. The victim was killed during the crime.

2. The Defendant caused the death of the victim.

In the state of Michigan, there are three main murder charges, and the defense of such is as tricky as any charge could be. The three flavors of murder are First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, and Felony Murder. Today, we will discuss the concept of Felony Murder and explain how some counties frequently look to bring this charge.

In Black’s Law Dictionary, we see that this is a charge that is brought when the death of one occurs during the course or the attempted course of a felony offense. To prove their case, the prosecutor must prove the following elements:

A. The Defendant is the proximate cause of death.

In the world of academia, the crime of voluntary manslaughter was always taught to be a friend of the criminal defense attorney as the punishment for this charge is far less than that of traditional homicide. With that stated, the charge is one of the most serious of crimes in the state of Michigan and the Federal Court System. To learn more about this crime, we turned to leaders in the field of criminal defense in our state.

Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates which has evolved to the top criminal defense firm in the state of Michigan. When asked about voluntary manslaughter, Grabel provided commentary when he stated, “It’s a 15-year felony, and any such charge is one that must be addressed carefully and aggressively. The actual statute is Michigan Penal Code 750.321 and the language reads: Any person who shall commit the crime of manslaughter shall be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison, not more than 15 years or by fine of not more than 7,500 dollars, or both, at the discretion of the court. It is truly one of the more serious crimes that state levies in charging documents.”

Matthew McManus is the founder of Ann Arbor Legal PLLC in Ann Arbor, Michigan and providing commentary when he stated, “What is taught at the law schools of University of Michigan, Michigan State, and Western Michigan Thomas M. Cooley Law School is not the way our criminal justice system applies this crime. In both my criminal law and criminal procedure class, students were told how voluntary manslaughter was a friend of the criminal defense attorney, in reality, it can be a nightmare. What we were taught in school certainly did not take into account a judge that will exceed the “Tanner-Max” on a plea agreement.”

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