By Diane Madigan
Independent Court Reporter
Brian Bernard Baker, 17, of Van Buren Township, who is scheduled to go to trial in August on four breaking and entering charges, was arraigned on a new, fifth charge July 3 at 34th District Court in Romulus.
Judge Brian Oakley bound Baker over to circuit court to face this charge with the others, setting a July 10 arraignment at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice on the information in this case.
Circuit Court Judge Mark T. Slavens had said he wanted all five cases to run together and Baker’s next court session before Judge Slavens is July 9 for a pre-trial exam. A final conference is set for July 17 and his trial is scheduled for Aug. 29.
All the break-ins were in Haggerty Subdivision in Van Buren Township between Feb. 19 and April 12.
In the fifth case, Baker is accused of an April 5 home invasion at 10914 Buchanan.
On July 3, he was brought from the Wayne County Jail to face the six charges in this case: 1st degree home invasion, larceny of weapons, larceny of $1,000 or more but less than $20,000, receiving and concealing weapons, and two counts of felony firearms.
He stood mute and a not-guilty plea was entered on his behalf, immediately followed by a preliminary exam to see if the judge thought there was probable cause to bind him over to a higher court. He was represented by his attorney James McGinnis.
Witnesses for the prosecution were homeowners Richard and Jeannine Labo, VBT Detective Derek Perez and VBT Sgt. Charles Bazzy who executed a search warrant at Baker’s residence on Oak Lane in VBT.
Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Kristen Capling questioned Richard Labo who testified that at 9:30 a.m. April 5 he was the last person to leave his home, which he locked. He said he returned home after he got a call from his wife between 10:30 and 11a.m. He said he found the front door jamb was broken and the front door was open. His wife and police officers were in the home.
He said the bedroom drawers were on the bed. A 14”x10” key-locked box from the top shelf in his closet was missing and the key was still there.
Labo testified that inside the box there was a German-made, .22-gauge pistol, a birth certificate, Social Security card, wedding rings, three bowling rings and other irreplaceable pieces of jewelry.
Also missing from the home, he testified, was an Acer laptop computer valued over $1,000, two Kindle Fires valued at $250, and a wedding band for which he had paid $1,800.
Labo said following the break-in he was called down to the VBT police department by Sgt. Charles Bazzy twice, to recover two bowling rings and his pistol.
On cross examination Labo said he assumed Baker had stolen his property because some items taken from his home were recovered.
Labo’s wife Janine then took the stand. Janine testified that she lives at the home with her husband and two children, ages 8 and 5. She testified that on April 5 she left home at 5:30 a.m. returning at 10:10 a.m. Although the door was closed, she said she saw that the lock was broken. She said she opened the door, saw the jamb was broken, and called 911.
When police arrived, she entered the house with them, noticing the Kindles were gone and the laptop was missing from the computer room. She said the lock box was missing. Her jewelry box was down and jewelry was missing.
The next witness was VBT Detective Derek Perez, who read in open court Baker’s statement made to police on April 12. Part of his statement said that the previous week he took an Acer Laptop, Kindle, safe, and rings that he took to Detroit to try to sell. Also, he said he, “Broke into a house, HP laptop, .357 magnum and some gold.”
Det. Perez said he told Baker that he was a suspect and that he was seen walking, carrying a black suitcase. Perez said Baker admitted he did break into a house on Buchanan.
McGinnis objected to the statement, stating, “It has not been proven that there was anything in the safe.” He added that it has not been established that anyone knowingly stole a gun.
Prosecutor Capling said Labo testified it was a keyed safe and Baker said he broke into it and there might have been a .22 in the safe.
Det. Perez said Baker said he didn’t have possession of a gun. Baker hid it in his father’s room, hoping his father would get in trouble, Perez said.
McGinnis asked if there had been a .357 magnum or a Kindle recovered.
Capling said that rings were on the floor at the residence, other items were pawned, melted down or sold on the streets.
While Perez was taking Baker’s statement Sgt. Bazzy conducted a search of Baker’s residence.
The next witness for the prosecution was Sgt. Bazzy, who testified on April 12 he conducted a search for stolen property at the Oak Lane address. He said in Baker’s bedroom he found gold sports rings. Tucked behind the sheets, at the foot of Baker’s father’s bed he also found an unloaded .22 caliber revolver. He said those were shown to Labo.
Capling asked for a motion to bind Baker over.
McGinnis argued the evidence fails to prove two felony firearm charges, and at best they can prove evidence for one.
Capling argued, “He wanted his father to take the rap for it. He did possess a gun. The question is did he open the safe there or take it home?”
McGinnis said the prosecution cannot prove Baker took the box and it is pure speculation of his knowledge what was in the box.
The evidence does not prove at the time he was committing a felony he knew there was a firearm, McGinnis said.
Capling argued, “In the statement he said he placed the weapon in his father’s bedroom.”
Judge Oakley determined there was enough evidence for Baker to be bound over on all the counts, except the second weapons charge.
Judge Oakley set bond on this fifth case at $10,000 or 10%, the same bond set for each of the four other cases. Judge Oakley also required a GPS tether, if bond is posted.
The prosecution had asked for a higher bond or for him to continue to be held because he has several pending home invasion cases.
“Is he a risk to the public or himself? Is he a flight risk?” Judge Oakley asked.
Baker’s attorney McGinnis said his client had no history of capiases (arrest warrants).
By Diane Madigan