By Rosemary K. Otzman
After a bench trial at 34th District Court on July 16, Judge Brian Oakley found Jeffrey Allen Kundrat guilty of assault and battery of his former girlfriend.
The incident took place at their former residence at 6515 Outer Drive in Van Buren Township on April 22, 2013.
Judge Oakley ordered Kundrat to be assessed by the probation department because of the age of the case – 15 months – and because of a prior conviction. Sentencing will take place in the future.
There were three witnesses in the trial: the alleged victim, the police officer who responded, and Kundrat himself.
Christine Mulka said she had been living with Kundrat, her boyfriend at the time, and they had an argument at a park and returned to the house around 5 p.m. She said the arguing continued and she told him she was leaving.
She testified that she started packing her belongings in a black plastic bag. She said Kundrat threw the keys at her head, hitting her on the right side of the forehead and gashing her head. She said she fell backward.
Mulka testified Kundrat stood over her and said he was sorry it has to end like this. Then he went to Lansing and she called police.
Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Carrie Butorac, in one of her last days at the district court, questioned the witness. (Butorac will be prosecuting cases at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in the future and her replacement at 34th District Court Danielle Strace observed the trial.)
Court-appointed attorney Jeffrey Bowdich cross-examined the witness.
Mulka said Kundrat threw the keys at her and the keyring carried several keys and a metal Chevy logo. She said she fell backwards from the blow and landed on the ground, blacking out for a moment.
When Bowdich asked if she ever went back, the prosecutor objected. Bowdich said the case was dismissed by the prosecution at one point after Mulka refused to prosecute.
The two attorneys approached the bench and, after some discussion, Judge Oakley allowed the question.
Mulka said that after she moved out they did decide to get a place together.
“I was very intimidated by him,” she said, adding he wouldn’t let her talk to the prosecutor and he threatened her family, and especially her father.
She testified she did talk to the prosecutor and the victim’s advocate and then left the courthouse with Kundrat.
Prosecutor Butorac asked why the relationship continued and Mulka replied, “I can’t understand to this day.”
When the prosecutor asked about the threats, Mulka said, “He had previously threatened my family. He started threatening friends at the beginning and family 6-7 months later … I wasn’t thinking clearly.”
“That influenced you as to whether to prosecute?” Butorac asked and Mulka said it did.
Next witness was Van Buren Township Officer Patrick Wehrman. He said he was dispatched to the scene of a physical domestic and he found Mulka at the site alone.
Officer Wehrman said she told him she and her boyfriend were arguing and he hit her with keys in his hand. He testified she was crying and upset and bleeding from the right temple.
Bowdich cross-examined Wehrman and the officer said Mulka told him she was hit by Kundrat. When Bowdich asked him about a previous court date, Wehrman said, “I didn’t see him until I picked him up on a warrant, about a month ago.”
“There was a court date before,” Bowdich said and Wehrman said he can’t speak about that because he wasn’t there.
Then Kundrat came to the stand. He said they were at Gallup Park that afternoon and the day was ruined when they started arguing. He said they went home and when the arguing continued, he asked her to leave his residence.
He said he expected her to catch the keys and didn’t intend to injure her. He testified he tossed the keys to her underhand and not an overhand motion.
Judge Oakley allowed Kundrat to demonstrate how gently he threw the keys by tossing them to his attorney, noting he had actually thrown them a little harder.
He said after the keys hit Mulka he apologized and left and they didn’t talk for a week. But then they began texting and meeting again and they moved into another place together and lived together for two months before he moved to Lansing.
Prosecutor Butorac said she tried to talk to Mulka and Kundrat wouldn’t let her. She said detectives had to go get Mulka to bring her to the prosecutor the first time they were in court.
Bowdich said, “This case hinges on intent. She didn’t tell the officer he tossed the keys. Why did he toss his keys? Her car keys were on that ring. He wanted her to leave immediately and come back later for her things.”
Prosecutor Butorac said Mulka was packing her belongings to leave and Kundrat had been threatening her and her family. She repeated that a detective had to go out and get Mulka because he wouldn’t let her talk to the prosecutor, after being charged with assaulting her.
Judge Oakley then said he didn’t find Kundrat credible. He said if Kundrat wanted to give Mulka’s key to her he could have taken it off the ring and tossed it to her. Judge Oakley said Kundrat had intent to hurt her so he found Kundrat guilty.
Other local cases were before Judge Oakley on July 16.
A bench trial was set for 11 a.m. Aug. 6 at the request of Jessie Clemmons who is charged with aggravated assault for a Dec. 13 incident on Carmell Street in Belleville. He asked for a court-appointed attorney for the trial.
Judge Oakley told him not to contact the complainant and the defendant said she was a stranger to him and he didn’t know where she was, so he wouldn’t contact her.
William Dunn IV
Also on July 16, Judge Oakley reduced the $10,000/10% bond for William Dunn, IV, 46, who had been in the Wayne County Jail since his arrest on July 7 for failure to appear on 2013 charges.
Dunn told the judge he will be going back to live with his wife on Maple Street and Judge Oakley reduced bond to $5,000 personal recognizance (no payment needed if he turns up for court) and released him, warning him to stay away from alcohol and drugs.
Dunn’s court-appointed attorney David Lankford said that Dunn had agreed to waive his preliminary exam set for July 16 and Judge Oakley ordered Dunn to appear at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit on July 23 to face his charges. Dunn is scheduled to appear before Circuit Court Judge Margie Braxton.
An April 5, 2013 charge of $45 for defective equipment has to be paid before he can get his license back, Judge Oakley said.
On April 8, 2013, Dunn was charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and driving while license suspended. He failed to appear for a court session on May 1, 2013 and a bench warrant was issued.
Judge Oakley urged Dunn to call the court if he is having difficulties and the court will help him.
“You’re one of ours,” Judge Oakley said. “You live in Sumpter.”
Gail Ann Kelley
Gail Ann Kelley, 52, waived her preliminary exam on charges of operating while intoxicated-3rd and Judge Oakley ordered her to appear at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice on July 30 for arraignment on the information. She was arrested in Belleville on Aug. 24, 2013 by Officers Rose and Wickham.
Her personal recognizance bond of $3,000 was continued.
Julian Aileni, 31, was due for a preliminary exam on July 16. He was arrested on July 2 in Belleville by Officers Vandeweghe and Wickham and charged with possession of narcotics less than 25 grams. He is out on $3,000 personal recognizance bond.
Michael Sisler of Bedell Street in Belleville pled guilty to a new charge of being a disorderly person and the former charge of arson of a flag was dismissed. Sisler told Judge Oakley that on Nov. 3, 2013, he was at a bad time in his life and he took the flag off his neighbor’s porch and put it in the fire in his fire pit.
The judge said the same week he had a misdemeanor with the same family for noise and texting.
Sisler said he has been going to a therapist and he bought his neighbor a new flag. He said there have been no problems since November. Judge Oakley fined him $400 and deferred sentence for six months.
By Rosemary K. Otzman