Articles Posted in Homicide

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. shutterstock_92369299-300x200

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: The-History-of-Criminal-Law-Pic-300x200

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. Personal-Safety-Guides-Protect-Yourself-Against-Sex-Crimes-Pic-300x199

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. shutterstock_92369299-300x200

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.”

On February 29, 43-year-old Cari Ann Wright of Onondaga Township was charged with murder in the 2015 death of her 16-year-old daughter, who couldn’t walk or talk according to news reports. Wright now stands charged with first-degree child abuse and torture in addition to the murder charge. iStock_000014700004_XXXLarge-2-300x200

The teenage girl could not care for herself and according to court records had not received medical attention in approximately one and a half years. Hannah Warner passed away on November 16; the following day, authorities began an investigation into her death.

At a hearing on Monday, an Ingham County Sheriff’s detective testified that Hannah weighed just 43 pounds. Her death was ruled a homicide. A news article at the Lansing State Journal revealed a warrant was obtained against the defendant on February 24, following the investigation in which the sheriff’s office worked closely with the Ingham County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Recently, a 55-year-old Macomb Township man was charged with first-degree murder after lynnallegedly strangling his 89-year-old father.  According to a news article at, Gregory Lynn Nieman called 911 after he “discovered” his father dead in the home they shared.

Neiman reportedly called authorities after he came into the home on Sunday morning and found his father cold to the touch, and not breathing.  Following an autopsy, Donald Nieman’s death was ruled a homicide; the medical examiner determined he had been strangled.  On Tuesday, Greg Nieman was charged with first-degree premeditated murder.

Nieman is currently held without bond; his next court appearance is scheduled for January 7.
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Recently, a 58-year-old Milford woman was charged with the murder of her 68-year-old husband, who was suffering from dementia according to an article at Yvonne Helen Cortis allegedly bludgeoned Gregory Cortis using a metal rod, then attacked the couple’s dog. iStock_000016750168_Large-2-300x200

The incident occurred on November 30. While Cortis sustained multiple fatal injuries to his head and torso due to blunt force trauma, the 11-year-old golden Labrador retriever, Carly, survived the beating.

A news report at the Detroit Free Press reveals Cortis used a crowbar to beat her husband and the couple’s dog. She reportedly called 911, and told the dispatcher there was a man and dog inside her home in the 1300 block of Nortoon with serious injuries that she had caused. When talking to investigators, Cortis told them that both Gregory Cortis and the dog were sick, and that she put them out of their misery.

In 2012, Brenda Miles Bratschi of Columbia, SC was convicted of the 2004 murder of her estranged husband, Randy Bratschi.  The Bratschi’s lived in a mobile home where the defendant allegedly buried her husband’s body under the home, leaving new owners of the property to find the skeletal remains five years later.  According to a news report at, Randy’s remains were found wrapped in a tarp in a shallow grave.

In November of 2004 the couple allegedly had a violent altercation before Randy Bratschi mysteriously disappeared.  The couple was involved in a domestic dispute about six weeks prior to the victim’s disappearance in which Brenda reportedly beat her husband with a wooden tire thumper.  He was severely injured at that time, and his wife arrested on charges of assault and battery with intent to kill.  She was also served a restraining order at that time.
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Recently, a 14-year-old Detroit teen was accused of attempting to murder his mother.  Tommie Lee Grady has been “adult designated” according to a news article at, which means he may be sentenced as an adult although he will be tried in the juvenile court.

On June 11, Grady’s mother was shot numerous times at the family’s home on Wisconsin in Detroit; it is believed the two were in an argument when he shot at his mother.  Police believe Tommie did the shooting, which occurred at around 8 in the evening.  Reports claim Tommie also turned the gun on his brother, but fled the scene instead of firing at his brother.  His mother was treated at an area hospital and released.  On Friday, the teen was apprehended by police in the area of Meyers and Keeler in Detroit.

Tommie Lee Grady is charged with assault with intent to murder, felonious assault, and being a minor in possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.  The assault with intent to murder charge carries a maximum life prison term for adults, however Grady’s punishment (which may be a mixture of sentencing allowed for an adult or juvenile) will be determined by the judge.  He could be sentenced to life in prison, or a sentence that is less harsh.

On Wednesday June 10, 24-year-old Foster Mudget was charged with two counts of delivery of a controlled substance causing death after he allegedly gave drugs to a 46-year-old woman who died from an overdose.  The substance allegedly given to the woman, whose name was not released in news reports, was not identified.

mudgetAccording to an article at, the Hart Police Department responded to an address last fall to investigate a drug overdose, which authorities say resulted in the death of the victim.  A press release issued by SSCENT (State Sheriffs Chiefs Enforcement Narcotics Team) stated that Mudget was arraigned in 78th District Court on the two charges.  The Oceana County Prosecutor’s Office issued charges against Mudget following an investigation conducted by SSCENT detectives and Hart police.

Update:  Another news source, Ludington Daily News, claims the substances delivered to the woman who overdosed were heroin and Fentanyl.  The article also reveals that earlier this year, the DEA (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration) reported an increase in deaths related to heroin laced with Fentanyl.

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