By Diane Madigan
Independent Court Reporter
After listening to the testimony of three police officers on the details of a truck theft and wild chase, 34th District Court Judge David Parrott bound defendant Michael Leak over to circuit court.
Following Leak’s preliminary hearing on Jan. 23, Judge Parrott found there was enough evidence that a felony had been committed and Leak had been involved.
Leak, 49, will be arraigned on the information on Jan. 29 at 3rd Circuit Court at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit. He remained in the Wayne County Jail under $50,000 bond.
Leak’s court-appointed attorney is David Lankford.
During the preliminary exam Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Kristen Capling presented the sworn testimony of three police officers to show probable cause.
The first witness called by the prosecution was Van Buren Township Police Officer Scott Griggs. Officer Griggs testified that while on patrol at 4:41 p.m., Jan. 10, he received a phone call with a description of a stolen vehicle heading northbound on Rawsonville Road.
Griggs said he was nearby driving a fully marked VBT police SUV, and immediately proceeded to the area. He said he spotted the suspect stolen vehicle, a white F-350 dually, proceeding north on Rawsonville. Griggs said he followed directly behind it with his lights and siren on. He said the vehicle made a U-turn just past the I-94 entrance ramp.
He pursued the truck, which went southbound through traffic lights with speeds up to 80 mph. Griggs said the truck collided with a U-Haul truck and ran several other vehicles off the road.
Griggs said his sergeant terminated the chase at the VBT border. Griggs said he made a U-turn at Bemis Road, going back to look for the damaged U-Haul.
Under cross examination by Leak’s attorney Lankford, Griggs said he was alone in the patrol car and identified the truck by description and license plate.
The next witness called by Capling was Sumpter Police Sergeant James Cayce. Sgt. Cayce testified he responded to a dispatch call on a stolen vehicle that had last been seen backing out of the owner’s drive at 4:30 p.m. in the 11000 block of Rawsonville Road.
Cayce said the keys had not been in the vehicle and it had not been running (as previously reported).
While on the scene, Cayce said he heard on his police radio that VBT was pursuing the vehicle southbound on Rawsonville Road and the chase had been terminated. Being six miles south of where the pursuit was stopped, Cayce said he left the scene of the theft, heading north. He said he drove into Augusta Woods trailer park and turned off his overhead lights.
Michigan State Police Trooper Raymond Matthews testified that he had been listening to the be-on-the-lookout police calls while in the area of I-94 and M-23. He said he quickly headed east on I-94.
Along the way, Matthews said he heard VBT had been in pursuit and had terminated. He said he also heard the vehicle had been found by Sumpter PD in Augusta Woods.
Matthews said he drove to Augusta Woods and met up with Cayce, parking in an opposite direction so both drivers could easily speak to each other through the drivers’ windows, with Matthews facing into the park.
Across Rawsonville Road from Augusta Woods is a business, A2Mac1.
Matthews said Cayce gave him some information and after speaking for about a minute they noticed the suspect vehicle, occupied by one, driving north on Rawsonville. They said they saw the vehicle turn into the parking lot at A2Mac1 and back into a parking space.
Testimony said Cayce drove across Rawsonville Road into the parking lot with Matthews following. As they drove across the parking lot, the truck came towards them and kept accelerating. To avoid being hit, Cayce first, followed by Matthews, made quick right turns. The truck came within five feet of hitting the Sumpter patrol car, according to testimony.
The truck exited the parking lot making a sharp left turn into a snow bank. Matthews used the push bumper on the front of his patrol car to force the vehicle deeper into the snow bank preventing its escape. The suspect was subsequently taken into custody, according to testimony.
Leak’s attorney asked that the videos from the pursuit and apprehension, including Sgt. Cayce’s patrol car videos and the A2Mac1 security cameras be preserved.
Leak was charged with: unlawful driving away of a motor vehicle, receiving and concealing stolen motor vehicle, third-degree fleeing a police officer, assault with a dangerous weapon (times 2) and fourth-degree fleeing a police officer.
If he is convicted and given the maximum sentences, he would get 25 years in prison.
Leak has been charged as a habitual offender. This is his fifth arrest for unlawful driveaway. He has also been convicted of escaping from prison, fleeing from a police officer, several B&Es and receiving and concealing stolen property.
By Diane Madigan