After written and oral arguments from the Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor and a retained defense attorney in 34th District Court on June 21, Judge Brian A. Oakley decided it was proper for a Belleville Police officer to stop a driver for squealing his tires, which led to the driver’s arrest for drunk driving.
James Michael Power, 38, was then bound over to circuit court to face the charge of operating with a high blood alcohol content in Belleville on April 22. He is free after posting bond of $10,000/10%. He is due in circuit court on July 5 for an arraignment on the information.
On May 10, the preliminary exam on the charge was held, but retained defense attorney William Maze insisted there was no state law or local ordinance he could find that would allow police probable cause to legally stop his client in the first place.
Judge Oakley asked both the prosecutor and the defense attorney to write briefs on the local ordinance and case law so he could decide whether to bind Power over to the higher court or to dismiss the charge altogether. If there was no legal reason to stop the driver, the drunk driving charge was not valid, he said.
On June 21 they were back before Judge Oakley. Maze said local Belleville ordinances are not accessible online “or anywhere” and “no doubt it’s preempted by the state.”
The prosecutor stated the state statute cited by Maze encompasses only muffler noise. The local ordinance covers all noise by an auto.
“I don’t think the state statute exempts the local ordinance here,” Judge Oakley stated, noting that was his decision on that part of Maze’s argument.
Maze said he researched this and looked at all cases and, “There’s never been a traffic stop in Michigan for squealing tires.”
Judge Oakley said the police officer had a reasonable suspicion that criminal conduct was afoot.
Maze suggested there could have been Fourth Amendment intrusion.
Judge Oakley said they had a local ordinance, which he had already decided was not preempted by the state, and so the officer had a valid reason to stop the ordinance.
“It’s a terrible ordinance, but it’s still in effect and the officer had a right to stop. A legal ordinance,” Judge Oakley said.
He denied the defense’s motion to dismiss the charge and bound Power over to the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice.
“Let me know what happens if you appeal,” Judge Oakley said to Maze, who replied the motion on the legitimacy of the traffic stop was actually a “collateral issue.”
Belleville’s new police officer Ahmed Kassem, who was just out of the police academy and had been on the force for just two months, testified May 10 that he and his Training Officer Cpl. Matthew Vandeweghe were doing traffic enforcement at 1:30 a.m. April 22 at Main and Denton. He testified a 2006 Grand Prix was stopped on Denton Road at the blinking traffic light and then the driver squealed his tires and accelerated. Officer Kassem testified he pulled the car over and after a field sobriety test took Power into custody.
James Forrest Chapman
The motion hearing for James Forrest Chapman that was set for June 21, as well as the preliminary exam on a felony and a misdemeanor, was adjourned until 11 a.m., July 12 by Judge Oakley.
Chapman said he wanted to apply the motion he wrote to the felony charge and both the DNA misdemeanors – all three counts. He said there also is “double jeopardy” and Judge Oakley reigned him in, saying they are just dealing with the motion and the three charges.
Chapman is charged with refusing to give a DNA sample in 2015, which was attached to a felony that has been settled, and also refusing to give a DNA sample after a felony arrest in 2016.
The 2016 charges were before a jury on two separate occasions. The first occasion was when a health emergency in the jury room led a VBT officer to enter the jury room. That was declared a mistrial and adjourned to a later date. At that jury trial, the VBT officer that was to testify did not show up because he was not subpoenaed and the charges were dismissed without prejudice by the circuit court judge.
The Wayne County Prosecutor’s office refiled the charges and they were due for their preliminary exam on June 21.
At a previous motion hearing, Chapman got permission from Judge Oakley to submit a motion for dismissal on the 2015 DNA charge. At that time, Judge Oakley told Chapman to submit the motion to the prosecutor two weeks before the June 21 date for the motion so the prosecutor could answer the motion.
But, Chapman presented it at the June 21 court session and Judge Oakley postponed any discussion on the motion for three weeks because neither he nor the prosecutor had a chance to read what Chapman had written.
Chapman said he wanted the preliminary exam adjourned along with the motion hearing since, “I just met my attorney.” His court-appointed attorney stood without speaking during Chapman’s discussions with the court. Usually a judge orders the defendant to let his attorney speak for him, but in this case Chapman was allowed to do all the talking.
During the hearing on a vicious dog citation, held the day before in Judge Oakley’s courtroom, Chapman also defended himself. If he is not successful his dog will be euthanized. At the hearing, the victim of the dog bite testified as to the vicious nature of the dog.
Judge Oakley gave Chapman a week [until June 27] to get another witness to testify in the dog’s defense. Chapman also complained he didn’t get a police report, but VBT police said he never requested a police report.
Shaunda Renee Wyche
A bench warrant was signed for Shaunda Renee Wyche, 24, who was scheduled to be present for her probable cause conference and did not show up.
Wyche is charged with carrying a concealed weapon in Sumpter Township on June 4. Sumpter Detective/Corporal John Ashby is the officer in charge of the case. Her $5,000 personal recognizance bond was cancelled.
Samuel Lewis Ward
Samuel Lewis Ward, 37, said he wished to hold his preliminary exam on July 5 on a charge of tampering with an electronic monitoring device in VBT on Nov. 7. VBT Detective Donovan McCarthy is the officer in charge of his case. Ward currently is lodged in the Wayne County Jail on three other charges from Inkster.
Bryan Christopher Herman
Bryan Christopher Herman, 29, waived his preliminary exam on three charges of possession of child sexual abusive material and three charges of using a computer/internet to commit a crime on Dec. 16, 2015. He is scheduled to be at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice on July 5 for his arraignment on the information. The FBI is in charge of the case.
Billy Joseph Hall
Charges of delivery/manufacture of marijuana and driving while license suspended-2nd were dismissed by the Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor against Billy Joseph Hall, 44.
The charges stemmed from an incident in the city of Belleville. He also had been labeled a habitual offender. Officer Jeff Wickham was the officer in charge of the cases.
Although it was not mentioned in the courtroom, Hall has been charged with three offenses in 36th District Court from an incident in Detroit on March 16: assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, assault with a dangerous weapon (felonious assault) and domestic violence. His co-defendant is Luther John Watson, 44, on those offenses.