By Diane Madigan
Independent Court Reporter and
Rosemary K. Otzman, Editor
A preliminary exam was held March 19 for the teen who is accused of shooting his step-brother on Oct. 27 at their Sumpter Township home.
After hearing the testimony of the victim, who had been granted immunity from prosecution to testify, 34th District Court Chief Judge Tina Brooks Green bound Jared Dean-Meeks Ritchie, 18, over to circuit court for trial or a plea deal.
Ritchie is charged with six felonies: assault with intent to murder, armed robbery, assault with intent to do great bodily harm, felony assault with a dangerous weapon, felony firearms, and discharging a weapon in or at a building.
Ritchie was scheduled to be arraigned on the information at 9 a.m., March 26 at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice.
This was the fourth try for a preliminary exam for Ritchie, who has been held at the Wayne County Jail since his arrest.
He was arrested by U.S. Marshals two days after the shooting when he got off a Greyhound bus in Tulsa during an escape attempt and then had to be brought back to Michigan. At his first exam date he was sent off for testing to see if he was psychologically able to stand trial.
After he was found capable to stand trial, the Feb. 26 exam was delayed because Sumpter Township Detective John Toth could not be present due to illness.
A March 12 exam date before 34th District Court Judge Brian Oakley was delayed a week when police said they couldn’t find the victim to testify.
Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Kristen Capling asked for a witness detainer for the victim William Ritchie, for not appearing for the March 12 third try for a preliminary exam.
Capling asked to have the case postponed because the victim has a civil attorney and is not happy testifying
Jared Ritchie’s court-appointed defense attorney David Lankford said, “On Feb. 26 the exam was not done because the victim was not in court. Even if he is negotiating an immunity agreement it isn’t a concern today.”
Detective Toth said prior to the exam, the victim wanted to press charges. Since then, the victim has been evicted, moved to another location where he was evicted again, has financial problems and is currently homeless.
“What I haven’t heard is why he’s not here,” said Judge Oakley.
Toth said Ritchie’s brother has a civil attorney and wants immunity from prosecution and there are other factors here.
“There usually are,” Judge Oakley said.
Toth said, “On a search of the premises, they found a pole barn full of marijuana and $13,000 cash.” (Later Toth said he meant there had been $13,000 cash there.)
Toth said he had met with the victim tracking him down through the VA hospital where he is receiving care.
Oakley ordered a witness detainer that could put victim William Ritchie into custody and told Capling to contact William Ritchie’s attorney. Capling said Toth would try to find the victim.
By the time of the March 19 exam date, the victim William Ritchey was on hand with an agreement that he would be immune to prosecution. The agreement was worked out just before he was scheduled to testify.
The victim testifies
In Judge Green’s courtroom, Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Ryan Lukiewski led William Ritchie through testimony that said he was shot by his brother Jared at about 5 p.m. on Oct. 27 when he came home to 23631 Elwell Road, where they lived together.
Ritchie said he came in the front door and put down the bag he was carrying. The Detroit Tigers bag contained $13,000 in cash, he said.
Ritchie testified that 20’ away, outside the closed sliding glass back door, he saw a figure squatting down with a shotgun pointing toward him. He didn’t recognize his brother at first because the person had sunglasses on and he couldn’t see his eyes, he said.
Ritchie testified he turned to exit the front door and as he turned he realized it was his brother.
He said he was slow in recognizing him because, “I didn’t think that my brother would shoot me.” He said he heard a large pop and shattering glass and his ears were ringing. He recognized it as a gunshot and
his left arm was no longer useable.
“I couldn’t see any blood, but I couldn’t lift my left arm…” He said he leaned down and called out, “Jared, please do not shoot me.”
He used his right hand to open the door and was running toward Elwell when he saw Jared in the open front door pointing the gun at him again. He heard another gunshot and felt it in his right arm.
Ritchie testified that an unknown person in a red truck stopped and took him to the closest fire department. Jared walked back into the house, he said.
Ritchie said he lay down on the concrete at the Sumpter fire hall and waited for the ambulance for about two minutes. He told Sumpter police that his brother shot him and he “might have schizophrenia.” Also he said he had left the bag with the money there and Jared was home alone.
He said an ambulance took him to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital where he spent 12 days, three of those in intensive care.
He described his injuries as a shattered humerus (upper left arm) and a collapsed left lung, since the first shot went through his arm and came out the front of his chest. The shot in the right arm left two large holes, but no broken bones.
Ritchie said he had two surgeries, one to repair the humerus with a metal rod and one to close the wounds in the right arm.
Ritchie testified that his brother knew he had the $13,000 because he had told him a few days earlier. He said he told him in case anything happened to him, Jared could take the money and “be all right.”
He didn’t tell anyone else about the money, which was $10,000 in $100 bills and $3,000 in $20s. He said he carried the cash because he doesn’t trust banks.
When defense attorney Lankford cross-examined William Ritchie, the witness said it wasn’t buckshot in the shotgun. He said the doctor said it was a slug.
He also said that day he had been visiting friends and was gone one or two hours before returning home. He said he carried the bag with him because he had a bad feeling that day. He left his bag in his truck while visiting the friends, he said.
He said although he had a bad feeling, he and Jared had had no dispute and he felt very comfortable with his brother.
Lankford said police found the witness had a substantial quantity of marijuana growing and stored on his property.
Ritchie said it was within his rights since he was growing medical marijuana and had just 24 plants. He said he has had a medical marijuana card for a couple of years. He said he could not estimate the total weight of the marijuana on his property.
Lankford said with a search warrant police found marijuana in a freezer in the living room, in the blue and yellow bedroom, in a bucket in the hallway, and a bucket in the backyard. Ritchie said he was unaware of what police found.
He said he not only grew medical marijuana for himself, but he had patients.
Ritchie said Jared was living on the streets of Houston. His father was dead and the mother, they both shared, was unable to take care of him. So, he said, he gave his brother a place to live.
Judge Green bound Jared Ritchie over to circuit court on the six felony charges.
Police indicated there was still $11,000 of William Ritchie’s money in police custody. Jared spent the rest along the way to Oklahoma, they said.
By Diane Madigan