Sharitta Marie Givens, 34, and Sean Lee Wells, 42, were bound over to circuit court for trial on matching charges of home invasion first degree after a preliminary exam before Judge David Parrott at the 34th District Court April 20.
Givens was represented by retained attorney Christopher Quinn and Wells was represented by retained attorney K. Irey-Iverson.
Before the preliminary exam could begin, Judge Parrott said Wells had a new charge of operating a vehicle with a high blood-alcohol content. He arraigned him, entered a not-guilty plea for him and set his pretrial before Judge Tina Brooks Green for May 23. Also, a $10,000 personal recognition bond was set.
Wells’ attorney asked for a few minutes with her client, since she didn’t know about this new charge. She took him out of the courtroom for a few minutes and then they returned so the preliminary exam could begin.
Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Doug Dwyer called his first witness, Stephen Young, who testified by video from a jail.
Young testified that on Feb. 16 he was in a house at 12692 Hannan Road in Van Buren Township, where he lived, and he was using the bathroom. He said two people pushed the door open and he pushed the door back. He said when he finished, he opened the door and they were outside the door.
He said there was a man about 5’8” tall and a woman, about 5’4”, with scarfs covering their faces from just beneath their eyes. They had crowbars in their hands. Young described the weapons as two parts of a jack system that they held up in front of them, mid-body.
Young said they were looking for a guy and thought Young was that guy. They were being aggressive and raised their voices and he said he felt threatened.
He said he went upstairs to his room and they followed him. He said he picked up a hammer in his room along with his ID card. After inspecting the card, Young testified, the woman said, “It’s not him.”
But the man tried to get the hammer out of Young’s hand and while they were wrestling over the hammer, the woman fell down the stairs. That’s when the two ran out of the house and across the street to 12765 Hannan, in the city of Romulus.
Although it was awkward via video, Young identified Givens and Wells as the people who had been disguised with scarves and had run across the street.
Young said right after it happened, police asked him to go across the street to identify the couple, and he did.
He said police from both Van Buren Township and Romulus were at the scene since one house was in the township and one in the city.
Under cross-examination, attorney Iverson questioned Young about the houses. Young said the 12692 Hannan Road house where he lived was rented out to 8-10 people, with each renter having one bedroom. There also was a couple that lived in the garage. They all shared two bathrooms and a kitchen.
He testified that he didn’t know if anybody else gave permission to Givens and Wells to come into the house. There was no lock on the front door.
Young said he handwrote a statement on what happened and gave it to one of the officers. Iverson said she had evidence from the police department, but no written statement.
Young said one of his neighbors had called the police while the incident was occurring. He said he talked to the officers from both jurisdictions that arrived and gave them a description. Police took him across the street to the other house and he stood at the front door.
They had found a male and were continuing to look for the female for a half hour, he said.
“They asked if he was the person and I said yes and they continued to look for the woman,” Young said.
Iverson questioned Young, the witness. on his criminal history and found he was in jail on a probation violation from a home invasion charge.
He also had a past misdemeanor larceny conviction in 1999, an attempted breaking and entering of a building and attempted B&E of a vehicle, two separate charges in 2007.
Attorney Quinn also cross-examined the witness on the living conditions at the house. There was no lease and renters could leave at any time. The front door didn’t have locks on it and there were no house keys.
Young said he went to the house across the street to pay the rent there.
Quinn questioned whether it was possible to break in if there were no locks.
Young again described the weapons, saying they were two pieces of a three-piece jack: the wrench to take lugs off and an adapter.
He testified the woman called him a Puerto Rican and a “mother f—er,” but she did not assault or batter him.
The next witness was Michelle Scherrer, who testified she managed the two houses at 12765 and 12692 Hannan for the owner Mike Alexander who was in Florida.
She said Givens and Wells were upset with her for an eviction notice, having to do with the house at 12765 Hannan, where they stayed together.
Scherrer testified they argued with her that day after she got back from grocery shopping and then they found a note on the refrigerator. It was from someone named Hassan Sutherland who said he wouldn’t be evicted without Mike, the owner, telling him.
Scherrer testified that after reading the note, Givens got upset and said, “We’re not having any of that.” That’s when they put on their bandit masks and stocking caps and picked up the pry bar and iron, she said. She said she did not see them come back from across the street.
Scherrer said Givens hid in the bedroom and acted like she was sleeping.
Scherrer said police banged on her door and asked for a key to Wells’ bedroom. She said she unlocked their door and, “There she was. On the bed.” Police arrested Givens.
Scherrer said there were eight people in the house where Givens and Wells lived.
She said the two had no business being across the street since there is a verbal rule that renters cannot have guests. This all happened around noontime, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., she said.
Iverson asked if she had been drinking at the time and she said she had a 25 ounce bottle of Natural Ice beer for breakfast.
She said she wrote out a statement and gave it to an officer and Iverson said she hasn’t seen that statement either, although she was told she had all the discovery information.
She said Mr. Wells was already in handcuffs when she came downstairs to help the police. She said she was giving 30-day eviction notices because the houses were condemned.
Scherrer said she has served Wells, and his guest Givens, with eviction and also Hassan at 12692 Hannan, across the street. Hassan had moved from the garage into a room in the house and he had changed the locks.
She said she called Alexander in Florida and he said to put a note on his door, which she had done the night before. She said it was Feb. 15 when she served the eviction notices.
Scherrer said Givens and Wells folded up their eviction notice and shoved it back under her door.
Prosecutor Dwyer said he had other witnesses, but he wouldn’t call them now and made a motion to bind the two defendants over for trial.
Wells’ attorney Iverson said there was no home invasion first degree because people go in and out of the house and there is no lock on the front door. There is no testimony there is a breaking of anything. She said Young didn’t know for sure if anyone gave the two permission to be in the house. The style and nature of this particular dwelling makes it impossible to know if they got permission, Iverson said. Also, no assault occurred.
Givens’ attorney Quinn there is no evidence of actual home invasion. He is renting a room and the bathroom is a shared space. Neither defendant entered Young’s room and there was no breaking and entering without permission, he said.
“There was no first-degree home invasion,” Quinn said.
Prosecutor Dwyer said no one gave them permission to be in there, and they can argue they had permission. On the identification, counsel can file a motion downtown corroborating the evidence. The witnessed ID’d them right after it happened.
“There are certainly many legal burdens to be drawn…” Judge Parrott began and then attorney Quinn’s cell phone blared out loudly breaking the judge’s train of thought.
Judge Parrott started over, stating the two attired themselves with masks, there was assault and battery and the victim had reasonable fear. They had shared space and there might be credibility issues, as well, but he decided to bind them over to appear at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit at 9 a.m., May 4, for an arraignment on the information.
Defense attorney Iverson said she wants all the written statements that she didn’t get and she made arrangements with the prosecutor to get them.