Articles Posted in Violent Crime

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, three murder charges are the most severe in our state: First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, and Felony Murder. Today, we will discuss the crime of Second Degree Murder in the state of Michigan. iStock_000000182036XSmall-300x224

When a prosecutor brings a charge of Second Degree Murder, they have the burden of proving the following elements:

1. The victim was killed during the act.

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.

A Wayne County Jury returned a unanimous verdict of not guilty for a Detroit man charged with seven felonies on July 17, 2019. Eric Coleman, 27, of Detroit, Michigan, was charged with the following offenses: Discharge of Firearm in a building Causing Injury, Assault with Intent to do Great Bodily Harm, Felonious Assault, False Report of a Felony and three counts of Felony Firearm.gavel-952313-m-300x200

In a case that had garnered a lot of media attention, the defense team of William Amadeo and Peter Winter utilized Michigan’s Castle Doctrine in their advocacy of Coleman. The successful use of the Castle Doctrine has garnered the attention of gun advocates across the state.

Amadeo, a partner at “McManus and Amadeo” in Ann Arbor, Michigan and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates in Lansing, Michigan was lead counsel on the case. When asked about the “Castle Doctrine,” Amadeo stated, “Pete Winter and I worked around the clock on this defense. With Michigan being a “stand your ground” state, we presented a theory that our jury related to. Eric [Coleman] was the actual victim in this case, and, sadly, he had to fight for his freedom the way that he did, but in the end, justice prevailed.”

Over the past two or three years heroin has made a strong comeback in West Michigan, resulting in not heroinonly countless deaths due to overdose, but a substantial rise in criminal charges. HIDTA, or high intensity drug trafficking areas, include Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Detroit, among others. Not too many years ago, Flint became a city that ranked continuously as one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. for several reasons, one being a sharp increase in heroin use. How does the increase of heroin addiction relate to the increase in crime in the state?

In regions where heroin addiction is high (particularly HIDTA regions), violent and property crimes are quite common. Heroin addicts often know no boundaries when it comes to getting their “fix,” and those who distribute or traffic heroin will go to almost any lengths to protect their distribution operations. Some of the most common criminal offenses committed by addicts who seek the funds to support their addictions include burglary, robbery, retail fraud, and other theft crimes.

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On Wednesday, April 13, 27-year-old Juan Enrique Reyes was sentenced to life in prison by Judge George Buth for the second-degree murder of Douglas “Ryan” Pollok who was killed in 2007 at a party in Grand Rapids when shots were fired into a crowd of 20 to 30 people. iStock_000008551433_Large-2-300x200

It took eight years for Reyes to be convicted and sentenced for the murder, as he and his brother, Eric Santiago, fled to Mexico following the shooting. Reyes did not know Pollok, and fired the shots in connection with another feud resulting in Pollok being struck in the chest by a bullet. According to news reports, Reyes and Santiago were featured on “America’s Most Wanted” in 2009 and again in 2012. The two men apparently had a grudge with a neighbor, who they were attempting to shoot at when Pollok was killed. Another man was also injured in the shooting.

In addition to life in prison, Reyes was sentenced to 20 to 50 years for assault with intent to murder and two years for felony firearm.

At about 10 p.m. on St. Patrick’s Day, police responded to a domestic violence call in Hampton Township. Upon arriving at the residence, police found a 21-year-old woman with injuries sitting on a friend’s porch. The woman alleged she had been beaten, choked, and kicked by Bryan E. Smith, her 29-year-old boyfriend. iStock_000024124827_Full-2-300x200

The beating allegedly took place inside Smith’s mobile home at the Saginaw Bay Estates mobile home park. Police say the woman was crying and hysterical when they arrived at her friend’s house.

Police went to Smith’s home, where he did not answer the door. Court records revealed that there was blood on the porch and steps of the home. Police found Smith on a bedroom floor after forcing entry, then handcuffed him before putting him in a patrol car, where he reportedly had to be sprayed with Mace after kicking and bashing the doors of the vehicle.

On Thursday March 10, 49-year-old Andre Hatchett was released from prison after spending nearly a quarter of a century behind bars for the beating death of a woman in 1991.  Hatchett was serving 25 years to life for the murder of Neda Mae Carter, who was strangled, beaten in the head, and left in a park in New York.

Hatchett went to trial twice in the alleged murder; the first ending in a mistrial after Hatchett’s defense attorneys were thought to be “inept,” according to news reports.  At the time of the murder, Hatchett was on crutches and had several injuries after being shot in the trachea and legs just months earlier.  The injuries Hatchett had at the time he allegedly killed Carter went unmentioned at trial.  Hatchett was hardly able to read or write at the time of his trial due to intellectual disabilities that had plagued him all his life, so he was not able to give his defense team support.
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On Monday, February 7, 30-year-old Dante L. Johnson was found not guilty of open murder in iStock_000006818663_Full-300x200connection with the 2014 shooting death of Orlando Walker in Kalamazoo.  Walker was shot on July 6, 2014; three people were charged in the shooting incident.  While Johnson was acquitted of the murder charge, he was found guilty of firearm possession by a felon and on one count of felony firearm.

Johnson was charged with open murder in June of last year, after another person charged in the case identified Johnson as the shooter.  Murder charges against Kenneth Langston were dismissed, however four other individuals supported his version of events and accusation that Johnson was the shooter.
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In August of last year, 33-year-old Martez Terrill Gardner of Ypsilanti Township reportedly shot a man at a Citgo gas station as the man was trying to run away after the men had become involved in an argument who one witness said was over a woman. Gardner was charged with first-degree premeditated murder initially, but has now accepted a plea deal in which he pleaded no contest to second-degree murder.

Gardner was also charged with carrying a weapon with unlawful intent, possessing a firearm as a feloniStock_000008551433_Large-2-300x200, possessing ammunition as a felon, three counts of felony firearm, and illegally carrying a concealed weapon.

Gardner is a habitual offender, having served time for unarmed robbery, malicious destruction of fire or police property, and probation for other criminal charges. Under the plea agreement his habitual status and first-degree murder charge will be dismissed at sentencing. After pleading no contest, he will serve 30 to 55 years for the death of 25-year-old Derius James.

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