By Rosemary K. Otzman
Diane Letice Orr, 43, of Van Buren Township was bound over to Wayne County Circuit Court for trial in the shooting death of her son after a preliminary exam on Sept. 17 before 34th District Court Judge Brian A. Oakley.
She has been charged with homicide / second-degree murder and felony firearm for the Sept. 5 killing of Renard Lumpik, 23, of VBT.
Her arraignment on the information will be held at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice at 9 a.m., Sept. 24.
Orr had been held without bond in the Wayne County Jail since her arrest, but after the preliminary exam, Judge Oakley listened to the defense attorney and prosecutor and then agreed to set bond at $25,000, cash or surety, so Orr, a single mother, could post bond and go home to take care of her two teenage sons and a grandchild.
Officials determined she was not a flight risk or a danger to the public. Prosecutor Christina Guirguis said her only reservations were that Orr not have access to a weapon and that Orr was sure to have contact with her son, who was a prosecution witness and had testified that day.
Orr’s retained attorney Byron H. Nolen said Orr is the witness’ mother and of course they would talk, but “He has nowhere to go from what he’s already said.” Nolen said the written statements the teen signed and his testimony that day are on the record.
Judge Oakley’s courtroom was standing room only as Orr’s family members packed into the session to support her. The infant grandchild who was at the scene of the murder cried out from time to time in the courtroom.
One witness, Vera Hicks, was asked to wait in the hall while testimony was being given before Judge Oakley because she was expected to be called as a witness either that day or in a future trial. She reluctantly left, crying softly.
Attorney Nolen told Judge Oakley that Orr has lived in this community her whole life and is a single mother who wants to take care of her 16- and 14-year-old sons, plus the three-month-old baby that is the child of her dead son.
Nolen said the prosecutor hadn’t proved malice of forethought or intention to kill and it sounds like an accidental shooting.
“There is no evidence she meant to shoot him, but the gun went off,” Nolen said. “The victim was in a rage. He destroyed the apartment … the gun went off. It was an accidental shooting. She had a CPL license for the gun. It was legal.”
“There was no testimony this was an accidental shooting,” Prosecutor Guirguis said. “I don’t know where he got that.”
When Nolen suggested a reduced charge of manslaughter, Guirguis said the circuit court judge could present that in jury instructions when it goes to trial.
Guirguis read the law on second-degree murder and the charge must satisfy one of three prongs: intending to kill, intending to do great bodily harm, or knowingly creating a risk of great bodily harm.
“I believe shooting somebody shows intent to do great bodily harm,” she said. “There was a lot going on before the shooting. It’s a fact question for a finder of fact to decide, not a law question.”
Judge Oakley agreed and bound Orr over for trial.
The preliminary exam began with Nolen telling the judge that there were 99 digital photos taken of the crime scene and he didn’t get them. There also was a sketch by Officer Long.
Guirguis said she gave a disc to Nolen with the pictures and has a few pictures printed out. Nolen wanted to enter pictures as evidence for the judge to see the small size of the murder scene.
Guirguis entered the medical examiner’s statement as evidence and Nolen entered the 18 photos he gave her as evidence. Guirguis was not comfortable in putting in the drawing without the evidence technician present, so it was held off for this exam.
The only witness called was Orr’s 16-year-old son who was present at the apartment in the 11500 block of Meadows Court, near the corner of Quirk Road and the South I-94 Service Drive, when the shooting took place at about 10 a.m. on Sept. 5.
He testified in a voice that was so soft that the judge had to repeatedly ask him to speak louder so the court clerk could hear him. He said there was arguing that morning between his mother and his brother Renard. She came into his room and told him to get ready because they were going to go. He took a shower and went to his room to get dressed and didn’t hear more arguing for a while.
Then, the teen said, Orr asked who used her towel and Renard said he didn’t and then admitted he did.
“So, you’re sneaking my stuff,” Orr reportedly told Renard and he started getting louder. She told him to get out, the teen testified.
He said his mother dropped Renard’s clothes over the bannister at the steps that led to the front door and Renard started throwing pill bottles and other things. She hit him in the back with her hand and he pushed her off. That’s when she went back to her room.
The teen said his brother said, “So, we’re throwing things.”
The teen said he was standing to the side and the baby was in the middle of the room. Renard threw a chair in the direction of the baby, so the teen said he grabbed the baby to take it to safety.
The teen said Renard yelled at him and snatched the baby away and slapped him in the face. The teen grabbed his brother and pushed him and they tussled, punching each other.
“I got away from him and went down the stairs,” said the teen, explaining he was not in fear for his life and, “I thought I won the fight.” The teen said he was taller than Renard.
Then the teen described the final confrontation, with the teen on the stairway, the mother in between, and Renard at the top of the stairs. The teen said Renard hit him in the back of the head.
“He gets ready to hit me again and a shot is fired. He said ‘Ow’ and he fell.”
The teen said he and his mother got in the car and the baby was still in the apartment. He said his mom drove a block away towards his aunt’s house with the gun in the car. But then, the teen said, his mother was panicking and headed back to the apartment to wait for the police.
On cross-examination, defense attorney Nolen made much of the size of the living room and how close everyone was to each other at the end. The teen had first told police that his brother was 8-10’ away and then changed that to 4’. He told the court he isn’t very good as estimating distances.
Nolen also reminded the teen that his 14-year-old brother lived there with him and his mother, although the teen forgot to mention the younger brother earlier.
Nolen noted that Renard was there only temporarily for a couple of days. The mother had previously banned Renard from their home because of his anger issues.
Nolen pointed out Renard had destroyed the apartment that morning, as the pictures show. Renard had picked up the couch and thrown it at the mother and picked up a chair and thrown it at her, breaking the chair.
Nolen said the teen had testified that Renard said he would, “Blow your sh– out” and had put him in a headlock and punched him in the face. He said the mother was yelling and screaming for Renard to get off the teen and finally the teen wiggled out.
Nolen reminded the teen that his mother told him to get out of the house for his safety and she got between him and his brother, but he still swung and hit the teen in the head.
Nolen said Renard was swinging at both the teen and their mother, who the teen said was 5’3” tall.
Nolen said the mother raised her arm to defend herself and the teen agreed saying he was standing right next to her and she closed her eyes and scrunched up her face as Renard started to punch her.
“When the shot rang out, her eyes were closed,” Nolen said and the teen agreed.
“Do you think she was trying to kill your brother?” Nolan asked the teen and he said no and the prosecutor objected to the question and the judge sustained the objection.
Nolen asked who called the police and the teen said his mother called them before the shooting happened.
The teen said when the police came and they were in the car, the police said to put the gun in the glove box.
He said he told police that his brother attacked him and his mom.
There were no other witnesses called and the prosecutor read from the autopsy report that showed the shot went from the back of the left shoulder to the outer chest with no evidence of close contact. The bullet went through the aorta and right lung and there was extensive bleeding. There were no other injuries and the manner of death was gunshot wound to the left shoulder, which was ruled a homicide.
The body was identified by his grandmother Vera Hicks.
“This is obviously a tragic case,” said Prosecutor Guirguis.
Officer in charge is Van Buren Township Det. Donovan McCarthy.
By Rosemary K. Otzman