Articles Posted in Sex Crimes

On Tuesday February 4, 37-year-old Ryan D. Tafel of Saginaw Township was sentenced to one year in prison and one year on a GPS-enabled tether after pleading no contest to attempted first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Saginaw County Circuit Judge Janet M. Boes sentenced Tafel, who pleaded no contest to the charge in exchange for prosecutors dismissing three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Tafel allegedly sexually assaulted a young female relative, according to news reports at Mlive.com. jail2-606956-m

Tafel is accused of sexually assaulting the female relative in Saginaw Township in 2005 and 2012; the girl is now 14 years old. The victim testified at Tafel’s preliminary hearing in May of last year behind closed doors. According to Christopher Boyd, Saginaw County Chief Assistant Prosecutor, Tafel was offered a plea agreement due to the prosecutor’s office trying to spare the teenage girl the stress of testifying, and because of potential proof problems.

Tafel declined a plea deal offered by prosecutors in which he would have pleaded guilty to second-degree CSC against someone under the age of 13. The plea would have left him facing three to 15 years in prison. He also declined to take a polygraph test.

Michigan sex crime appeals attorneys know that there are many innocent people sitting behind bars for crimes they did not commit. Unfortunately, rape, child molestation, and sexual assault are some of the easiest crimes someone can be accused of committing, regardless of whether the allegations are true. However, disproving the accusations is not easy – and regardless of your innocence or guilt, the public, and often jurors, have a preconceived notion that you are guilty. When jurors are biased, it can result in a wrongful conviction. 282848_law_library.jpg

A conviction does not mean that you are at the end of the road and there are no other options. When you have been wrongly convicted of any criminal offense, the best thing you can do is to consult with an experienced Michigan criminal appeals lawyer who is skilled and highly familiar with the appeals process. Winning an appeal is not easy, and the process is complex. Your attorney will thoroughly review your case to determine if you have strong grounds for an appeal of the decision made at trial.

The fact is, jurors are not the only ones who can make mistakes or have clouded judgment; judges and prosecutors can err as well, and often do. Even witnesses may not always tell the whole truth. Children who are alleged victims are often coerced into making accusations by adults, or may hear/see things on television and in the media that give them ideas. Whatever the reason, if you are not guilty of the crime you have been convicted of, you must take action.

Following a conviction, there are several options that may apply in your situation depending on the circumstances. You may want to consider filing a motion for a new trial, file a motion for a Ginther Hearing if you feel your conviction was a result of ineffective counsel, or introduce new evidence which may support your innocence.

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Kevin Taylor, a 19-year-old Kalamazoo man, has been sentenced to a minimum 9 years after being convicted of first-degree child abuse. Kalamazoo County Circuit Judge Gary C. Giguere to 112 months to 20 years in prison, saying that the abuse of a 2-year-old boy was an act of brutality, and that no small child was safe around Taylor.

Taylor was initially charged with a count of first-degree child abuse as a second-time habitual offender and domestic violence. As part of his plea agreement, the charge of domestic violence was dropped at Taylor’s June 17 sentencing hearing.

News articles do not reveal how or if Taylor is related to the 2-year-old boy, or where the alleged abuse took place. What is known is that Taylor, who was 18 years old at the time, was babysitting the toddler, and that his last known address was in the 1100 block of Bridge Street. According to Mlive.com, Kalamazoo police were in search of Taylor after responding to a report of child abuse from the Bronson Methodist Hospital. The boy’s injuries were said to be consistent with physical abuse, and included bruises to his body and blunt-force trauma to the abdomen.

Judge Giguere said after sentencing Taylor that, “It keeps you off the streets for a significant amount of time.” He also said that Taylor “richly deserved” his sentence. Taylor told the judge on Monday that he knew he made mistakes, and that while in prison he hoped to better himself. He went on to say that while in prison he would take classes so that he would be fit for society upon his release.

Michigan child abuse lawyers agree that harming and abusing a child is unconscionable; however, young people, particularly teenagers, are not always emotionally or psychologically capable of controlling their thoughts and actions. Certainly the defendant in this case is learning a lesson the hard way, although it is unfortunate that someone so young may remain in prison until he is nearly 30 years old, and may never have the opportunity to live a productive life.

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26-year-old Samantha Slater was arrested on Tuesday, April 23, on charges of child abuse. According to a news article at Mlive.com, Slater was at home when Brooklyn Weimer was allegedly abused by Benjamin Wilkins, Slater’s boyfriend, and almost killed according to Montcalm County prosecutors.

On March 24, Wilkins admitted that he was taking care of Slater’s daughter according to court documents. He alleges that he placed the child in the bathroom for a “time out,” then heard a thud a few minutes later. When Wilkins went into the room to check on the sound, he found her unresponsive. She was flown to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital with what doctors called life-threatening injuries. New reports state the doctors suspected abuse.

That evening at around 9:00 p.m., Wilkins called for an ambulance following a series of what were called “bizarre” calls with dispatchers and hospital staff. Wilkins allegedly reported that he had a friend who was injured, but later admitted that he had fabricated the stories, telling a detective that he and the child’s mother were fearful that DHS and police would become involved.

When officers arrived on the scene, the toddler was breathing but was unresponsive; it was determined at the hospital that she had suffered a closed head injury. She was listed in critical condition at the time, and in a medically induced coma.

When police arrested Samantha Slater on April 23, Wilkins was in jail for violating parole. Both are expected to face charges of first- and second-degree child abuse.

Michigan child abuse lawyers know that individuals facing charges of first- and second-degree child abuse face serious consequences if convicted. In fact, first-degree child abuse is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. However, there are times when innocent people end up behind bars for crimes they did not commit. Child abuse has become a serious topic in society today; when a child has a bruise caused by a fall, people are often quick to jump to conclusions.

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Last month, we wrote about Harvey Seville Wince, a 22-year-old Superior Township man who had been accused of torturing a 3-year-old child he was babysitting for his girlfriend. Now, Wince has been found guilty of first-degree child abuse and torture. This is the second time Wince has been tried in the case; the first trial concluded in November of 2012, when the jury was unable to reach a verdict. Wince will potentially face life in prison when sentenced.

Wince’s 17-year-old girlfriend was the toddler’s frequent babysitter, however on April 1 of 2012 the babysitter had other plans and left the boy in the care of Wince. When the toddler’s mother returned home from work on the evening of April 1, she found her son had burns on his body, bite marks, and other injuries. She took him to the University of Michigan Health System for treatment of his injuries, where it was found that he also had fluid in his abdomen and blood in his urine.

Investigators in the case found that along with burns caused by being placed in a bathtub of scalding water, the toddler suffered a lacerated liver believed to be caused by blunt force trauma. The boy allegedly had bruises over his entire body, and bite marks on his arms. Wince did admit to biting the boy. Authorities at the sheriff’s office could not determine a motive for the injuries to the 3-year-old.

While this is a very sad situation, Michigan child abuse attorneys understand that there are often situations in which a parent is wrongly accused of child abuse, sometimes by an ex-spouse, or by someone else who may notice a bruise or other injury which occurred in a completely innocent way. The criminal penalties for those convicted are serious; not only may you spend years in prison, your reputation may be ruined, and your relationship with your child damaged for life.

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Harvey Wince, a 22-year-old Superior Township man who was charged with first-degree child abuse and torture for a March 2012 incident, was scheduled for retrial after the jury was unable to reach a verdict in his November 2012 trial. The retrial has been postponed until March 18 so that James Fifelski, Wince’s defense lawyer, can have additional time to review transcripts from the November trial. Judge Darlene O’Brien agreed to the postponement.

At the time of the alleged crime, Wince was 21 years old. Wince is accused of placing a boy who was 3 years old at the time in a bathtub of scalding water so hot that some of the victim’s skin came off. Wince was babysitting the boy at the time the alleged crime took place; news reports at AnnArbor.com state that the 3-year-old boy suffered bite marks to his arm, bruising, and first-, second-, and third-degree burns on more than 20% of his body. The boy and his mother lived nearby Wince’s MacArthur Boulevard and Superior Township townhouse when she dropped her son off at his home on March 31. The alleged victim and his mother’s names were not released in news reports.

Wince’s bond was set at $50,000, which Judge Melinda Morris ruled to keep after Fifelski requested that she lower it to 10% of $5,000. The judge declined to lower bond after Blake Hatlem, Assistant Washtenaw County Prosecutor argued to keep the original bond because of the severity of the charges, and the likelihood of a conviction.

The mother of the boy had Wince baby sit while she was away at work. She testified that when she returned from work at about 4:30 p.m., the boy was fine. She left her son with Wince again the same evening while she went to check on her father, who lived in Ypsilanti. When she called Wince a few hours later to check on her son, she said that he told her that the little boy had gotten into a spat with two other toddlers while playing outdoors, that he had vomited, and that he had given him a bath. Court records also state that Wince told the boy’s mother that his skin was red. The boy’s mother said that upon returning to Wince’s home, she noticed that her son was burned, and that some of his skin was gone, which Wince had swept up and thrown in the garbage.

Wince said that the boy must have turned the hot water on himself after Wince had left the boy in what he described as “lukewarm” water to play a video game in the living room. Fifelski stated that he will vigorously defend his client, and that he believes they have a “very strong” defense.

These types of charges are extremely serious; Michigan child abuse defense attorneys know that if convicted on a charge of first-degree child abuse, individuals may face up to 15 years in prison.

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John Harold Sanders, a 37-year-old Lansing man, was charged on Monday in the death of his 3-month-old daughter, who died at a Lansing’s Sparrow hospital on Friday, January 4. Sanders was arraigned in 54A District Court on Monday on charges of first-degree child abuse and murder. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

The scene unfolded on Friday when Lansing police were dispatched to the hospital after medical personnel found the baby, Janayjah Sanders, had serious internal injuries according to Capt. Daryl Green. The infant was pronounced dead at 10:35 p.m. On Saturday, police announced that the infant’s suspicious death was under investigation. Possible witnesses are being interviewed in order for police to determine how the baby may have been injured.

Sanders faces charges as a fourth-time habitual offender, as he has numerous past convictions according to news reports. In 2005, Sanders was convicted in Oklahoma on a charge of second-degree burglary. In 2011, the suspect was convicted on drug possession charges in Eaton County according to court records. Sanders is being held in the Ingham County Jail without bond, and has requested a court-appointed lawyer.

The preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled for January 17 in front of 54A District Court Judge Hugh Clarke Jr. Individuals with any information pertaining to this case are asked to contact Detective Shannon Thielen at 517-483-6858.

This is a very sad and unfortunate situation; however, Michigan murder defense lawyers understand there are often extenuating circumstances which may affect the outcome for the individual charged with a serious crime such as murder. Regardless of the circumstances, it is important that individuals accused of crimes that could leave them facing a lifetime behind bars consult with an attorney immediately.

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D’Andre Lane was convicted on child abuse and first-degree murder charges on October 12 after being found guilty by a jury of slaying his 2-year-old daughter. On Monday, December 3, Lane will be sentenced to life in prison without parole by Wayne County Circuit Judge Vonda Evans.

The crime took place in December of 2011, when the Detroit father faked a carjacking after allegedly killing his daughter, Bianca. News reports state that Lane claimed his vehicle was taken at gunpoint in Detroit’s North End neighborhood as Bianca sat in the back seat of the car. Police located the vehicle within an hour, but Bianca was nowhere to be found. Her body has not been found to this day.

Prosecutors alleged during Lane’s trial that he had used a stick wrapped in a towel to beat Bianca to death. He then disposed of the body, according to prosecutors, and attempted to cover it all up with the story about the carjacking. Prosecutors claimed that Lane murdered his daughter basically because she wet herself, and he believed physical punishment was necessary when toddlers have accidents.

During the trial, a cadaver-sniffing dog handler testified that the dog had detected the smell of a body both in Bianca’s bedroom at the home and in Lane’s car. Terry Johnson, Lane’s defense attorney, said that the guilty verdict came as a shock because of the lack of physical evidence. According to Johnson, prosecutors uncovered no physical evidence during the course of the investigation.

As of next week, Lane will live the rest of his life behind prison bars.

As Michigan homicide defense attorneys, we realize that while the majority of individuals locked away in prison for committing heinous crimes are guilty, there are many innocent people who lose their freedom, reputation and future. When an innocent person is incarcerated for life, it is a true tragedy – yet it happens.

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On Friday, October 12, 32-year-old D’Andre Lane was found guilty by jurors of first-degree felony murder and child abuse. Lane is accused of killing his 2-year-old daughter, Bianca “Bacon” Jones, in December of 2011 although her body has never been found. Banika Jones, mother of the alleged victim, believes that Bianca is still alive, and that Lane is innocent of the charges against him.

The verdict came about 1 p.m. on Friday following a full day of deliberations. Lane, whose sentencing hearing is scheduled for November 16, intends to appeal according to news reports. Lane faces up to life in prison, the mandatory sentence for first-degree murder.

On December 2, it was alleged by prosecutors that Bianca wet the bed in the middle of the night and that Lane then beat her to death with a tape-wrapped stick, what they would later label a “cudgel.” He disposed of her body the next morning by covering her with a blanket, then taking it to a still undetermined location after delivering another daughter and nephew to their destinations. News reports claim that while the body has not been recovered, cadaver dogs indicated that at one time there had been human remains in Lane’s vehicle.

Lane told what prosecutors believe to be a fabricated story, claiming that he was carjacked and Bianca abducted as he was driving to the girl’s mother’s home to get her some clothes. Lane’s vehicle was found by police approximately 6 blocks away, still running.

According to Assistant Prosecutor Qiana Lillard, the weapon which Lane called a paddle was in her opinion a “cudgel,” a stick designed to be used as a weapon. She claimed that spanking a child to potty train him or her using a weapon made for that purpose is child abuse.

Several witnesses, along with Bianca’s mother, testified that they did not believe Lane killed his daughter, and that he was a caring father regardless of whether he used the stick to discipline his daughter. Banika Jones served from 1999 to 2002 as a chemical operations specialist in the U.S. Army; she claimed that she and Lane used corporal punishment to discipline their daughter, and that it was no one else’s business.

Michigan criminal defense lawyers know it’s often difficult to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt when there is no body; however in this case the defendant was found guilty.

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The Michigan Supreme Court has just ruled that a man’s due process rights were violated when the trial court judge failed to inform him that if he plead guilty to first-degree criminal sexual conduct or second-degree criminal sexual conduct, he would face mandatory lifetime electronic monitoring.

Michigan law treats sex crimes very seriously, with prosecutors seeking harsh punishment. If you are under investigation for or have been charged with any Michigan sex crime, it is important to speak to an aggressive Michigan criminal defense lawyer right away.

In Michigan v. Cole, David Cole was charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct 2d degree pursuant to MCL 750.520©(1)(a). Under Michigan law, a conviction for CSC-2d degree carries with it a potential 15 years’ imprisonment. In exchange for his no-contest plea, the court agreed to a five-year concurrent cap on the minimum sentence. Significantly though the court failed to tell Cole that if he accepted the deal and if sentenced to prison, he would face lifetime electronic monitoring.

Although Cole tried to amend his plea, the trial court denied his motion. However, both the Michigan Court of Appeals and now the Michigan Supreme Court disagreed. The Supreme Court determined that mandatory lifetime electronic monitoring is part of the sentence itself. As a result, at the time of a plea the court must inform the defendant of this consequence.

Michigan law, MCR 6.302 provides that a “court may not accept a plea of guilty or nolo contendere unless it is convinced that the plea is understanding, voluntary, and accurate.” Here, the Supreme Court determined that it’s not possible to find that a defendant has entered an “understanding and voluntary plea” if they don’t know all of the consequences of a plea.

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