Four Van Buren Township teenagers charged in the March 22 armed robbery in Wagon Wheel South mobile home park — where a home’s front door was kicked in and a couple was held at gunpoint — will go to trial on Oct. 9 at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit.
All four were 17 years old when arrested.
Their next court date is a pre-trial hearing set for 11 a.m. Aug. 31.
On Aug. 16, the arraignment on the evidence was held before Circuit Court Judge Gregory Bill. Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Kimberly Hesse spoke for the People and the four defendants had three attorneys present, since Renj Scribbling-Elmore’s attorney Jonathan Jones did not show up for court.
Other defendants were Brandon Fair, with his new attorney Alvin Sallen; Joseph Marsh, with a fill-in attorney for his regular attorney Murray Duncan; and Jaleel Booker, with his attorney Larry Polk.
Also present was the female victim of the robbery and the owner of the trailer park.
Attorney Sallen and an attorney speaking on behalf of Marsh asked for the pre-trial hearing to be postponed 2-3 weeks to give them time for discovery. Sallen added that the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office has made no movement to reduce charges.
After a long sidebar between Prosecutor Hesse, two attorneys and Judge Bill, there was a plea offer of one count armed robbery and one felony firearms, with a sentence of 5-20 years plus 2 years for a weapons charge. That would mean the charges of home invasion and possession of marijuana would be dismissed. The attorneys asked for 51 months.
Fair’s attorney Sallen was not willing to present the offer to his client..
Next, Jaleel Booker’s attorney Polk asked for a motion to quash 34th District Court Judge Brian Oakley’s preliminary ruling to bind Booker over to circuit court. Polk said Judge Oakley used the words “assume and assumption” during the exam testimony about a cellphone call to his client. He questioned how you could assume who made the call to the residence and where the call came from. He stated there was no testimony to support his client made the call and it was improper for Judge Oakley to bind his client over on his assumption just because he was in a car with a cellphone.
Quoting from the 34th District court transcripts many times, Judge Bill stated that the court is allowed to use “near presence” in testimony and look at the totality of testimony. He stated that Booker made a statement that he took guns and masks out of the car which put him in “near presence”.
Polk argued there was nothing to indicate when his client became aware of anything going on. Judge Bill again relied on the 34th District Court transcripts to quote Prosecutor Murray that Booker was driving the get-away car and was aiding and abetting. Polk argued that there is a lack of identification, he was just sitting as a passenger, he did not go into the home and only portions of the statements were used.
Prosecutor Murray in pretrial found there was sufficient circumstantial evidence.
Judge Bill stated, “Do I feel Judge Oakley has abused his discretion? No. Not being in the courtroom to hear the emotion of the testimony, it’s a close call. It’s a weak case. I understand how he reached his decision. Motion to quash, Denied.”
The prosecutor made the same plea offer to Booker as to the others.
All defendants are charged with two counts of armed robbery, home invasion in the first degree, and possession of marijuana. Marsh and Fair also have weapons charges. The charges could bring up to life in prison.
The defendants are all out on $10,000 cash bond each and wearing tethers.
An alleged fifth member of the group, Raymond Hicks, was not charged.
A hearing for the motion to quash was first set for Aug. 3, but not held because two of the attorneys did not show up, according to the prosecutor.