Category Archives: Violent Crimes

Low-Sodium as an Insanity Defense?

A Roseville man accused of stabbing his mother to death because she wouldn’t give him money to buy drugs will claim temporary insanity at his upcoming trial.

Timothy Kohler, the court-appointed attorney for Charles Foresi, this morning said the defendant experienced brain dysfunction because he suffered from hyponatremia, low sodium, that wasn’t being treated properly.

Read the full article here

Do you think this kind of defense will fly in court?



Filed under Holly Valente, Violent Crimes

Mother Stabs Baby, Found Not Guilty

In Oakland County, a twenty-six year old mother picked up a knife and stabbed her thirteen-month old baby, puncturing his lung.  She was charged with  Assault With Intent To Commit Murder, a serious felony punishable by up to life in prison.  Her defense was insanity based on post-partum depression and post partum psychosis.

This charge is like all crimes – comprised of necessary elements. Under the law, if even one element lacks a factual basis, the entire charge must be dismissed. Because a mental condition may have played a role in the incident, her defense was  because she was legally “insane” at the time of the stabbing, she did not have the capacity to form the element of intent to be found guilty of this crime.

After the defense submitted an expert psychiatric witnesses, to provide the factual basis in support of the defense of legal insanity, the trial judge was compelled to enter a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Consequently, the law requires that mother be committed to a psychiatric center for no less than 60 days. She must remain there (or at another facility), until her psychosis abates and/or she no longer poses a danger to herself or others.

Click here for the full story: Mom found insane in baby stabbing could return to family soon

Ambrose Law Group 

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Detroit 300 Back In The News: Searching For Detroit Serial Rapist


Scores of Detroiters gathered Thursday night to take back the streets of northeast Detroit.

“Nobody in the streets can beat us when we come together as one and say, ‘No more in Detroit,’ ” Raphael B. Johnson said into a bullhorn, surrounded by residents preparing to blanket the area around Gratiot and 7 Mile with sketches of the man police suspect of raping seven young women this year.

Johnson and other members of the group Detroit 300 urged women to avoid being on the streets after 9 p.m. The group, which coordinated Thursday night’s effort with Detroit police, has been credited with helping solve the August rape of a 90-year-old woman on the west side.

Maurice Black, 43, said he came out because he hopes someone who knows the rapist will come forward.

“This is somebody’s brother. This is somebody’s cousin,” Black said. “All we ask is that you turn him in so we can get him some help.”

Cassandra Crutchen said her 19-year-old daughter was attacked.

She told the volunteers: “We’re going to catch him.”

Police have said women were attacked near Gratiot and 7 Mile, Hazelridge and Hayes and near Cadieux and I-94. A possible eighth victim was attacked in Highland Park near the Detroit border on Jan. 6, said Highland Park Detective Sgt. Brenda Perkins.

Detroit police have described the suspect as being in his 30s, 5 feet 9 with a thin build, dark complexion, mustache and goatee.

Police say most of the victims have been 19 to 22 years old, and were attacked in late evening or early morning while walking alone or waiting at bus stops. In one case, a woman was attacked after the man bumped her vehicle and she got out.

Police said the man takes the women at gunpoint to a secluded location, where he robs and sexually assaults them. Perkins said the Highland Park victim did not say she had been robbed.

Another young woman was raped Thursday evening near Kercheval and Lakewood on Detroit’s east side, but police said they don’t believe the suspected serial rapist is responsible.

Read more: City crime fighters join hunt for rapist | | Detroit Free Press

Read our previous post on the Detroit 300 here

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Filed under Criminal Sexual Conduct, Holly Valente, Self Defense, Violent Crimes

Does defending your home justify murder?

Nolan Finley posted an editorial in the Free Press today on the case of Tigh Croff. Croff shot and killed Herbert Silas, a man he caught burglarizing his home this past December. One of the aspects that makes this case so controversial is Tigh did not shoot Silas while he was inside of his home. Croff chased Silas a block and a half, and when Silas stopped running and tauntingly asked Croff what he was going to do, Croff admitted to police he told the man he would shoot him and then did. That statemnt turned what would have likely been a manslaughter charge for Croff into a charge of second-degree murder. For the full article click here

It’s a controversial case. Was street justice fair in this case? Croff was an upstanding citizen and this wasn’t the first time he had come home and found his house being burglarized. How far would you go to protect your home and family?

Here’s a case where the court found in favor of a homeowner who shot and killed a man stealing a lawnmower from his garage:

487 N.W.2d 843


194 Mich.App. 593


PEOPLE of the State of Michigan, Plaintiff-Appellant,


Walter HAMPTON, Defendant-Appellee.


Docket No. 137710.


Court of Appeals of Michigan.


Submitted Jan. 8, 1992, at Detroit.

Decided July 6, 1992, at 9:30 a.m.

Released for Publication Aug. 28, 1992.


[194 Mich.App. 593] Frank J. Kelley, Atty. Gen., Gay Secor Hardy, Sol. Gen., John D. O’Hair, Pros. Atty., Timothy A. Baughman, Chief of Research, Training, and Appeals, and Thomas M. Chambers, Asst. Pros. Atty., for the People.


Legal Aid and Defender Ass’n of Detroit by Donald L. Johnson, Detroit, for defendant-appellee.


[194 Mich.App. 594] Before MICHAEL J. KELLY, P.J., and JANSEN and LESINSKI, * JJ.




The Wayne County Prosecutor appeals as of right from an order of the Detroit Recorder’s Court granting defendant’s motion to quash the information charging him with murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. On June 13, 1990, defendant shot and killed the decedent after the decedent had attempted to break into his home and had broken into his neighbor’s garage. Defendant fired a shot at the decedent as he attempted to leave the scene with a lawn mower. Defendant was bound over by the district court on charges of murder in the second degree, M.C.L. Sec. 750.317; M.S.A. Sec. 28.549, and felony-firearm, M.C.L. Sec. 750.227b; M.S.A. Sec. 28.424(2). Defendant subsequently brought a motion to quash the information, which was granted by the lower court on January 11, 1991. The prosecution appealed the lower court ruling. We reverse.


Defendant is a homeowner residing in the City of Detroit. Early in the morning of June 13, 1990, defendant was awakened by the sound of a kick at his side door. Defendant got out of bed, retrieved a .38 caliber pistol from his basement, and looked out the window. He saw the decedent walking down his driveway and away from his side door. The decedent then walked across defendant’s yard to the yard of defendant’s neighbor. The decedent jumped over the gate in the neighbor’s fence and kicked in her garage door. The decedent then went inside, came out, and threw something over the gate. Defendant opened his door, fired one shot, then closed the door. Defendant, upon learning that his wife had notified the police, got ready for [194 Mich.App. 595] work and left. On his way to work, he disposed of the handle grips and the cylinder of his gun.


After returning home and learning that the police had not come seeking him, defendant went to the police department, where he gave a voluntary statement regarding the events that occurred on the morning of June 13, 1990. He was subsequently arrested. At the preliminary examination, both parties stipulated the identity of the decedent and that he died of a gunshot wound to the head.


On the basis of the evidence adduced at the preliminary examination, defendant was bound over for trial on charges of second-degree murder and felony-firearm. Consequently, defendant brought in the Detroit Recorder’s Court a motion to quash the information.


The parties stipulated the supplementation of the record by admitting the report of an evidence technician, which verified that the neighbor’s garage had been broken into, that the decedent was in the process of pushing away a lawn mower when he was shot, and that the decedent’s body was found 100 to 150 feet from the spot from which defendant had fired. The prosecutor, in response to the motion, did not contest that the decedent was a fleeing felon at the time he was shot. Rather, the prosecutor argued that the question of the necessity of the shooting was one of fact that should have been left for the jury to decide. The Recorder’s Court judge rejected the prosecutor’s arguments and entered orders granting defendant’s motion and dismissing the charges.


The general standard utilized by this Court in situations where a trial court quashes an information is to determine whether the district court abused its discretion in binding over the defendant. People v. Talley, 410 Mich. 378, 385-386, 301 N.W.2d 809 (1981); People v. Sherman, 188 Mich.App[194 Mich.App. 596] . 91, 93, 469 N.W.2d 19 (1991). Where there is no abuse of discretion by the district court, a trial court’s decision to quash the information should be reversed. Id.


In this case, the Recorder’s Court, under the mistaken belief that the facts and circumstances in this case unquestionably justified defendant’s use of deadly force, concluded that the district court had abused its discretion. The prosecutor argued below and on appeal that the use of deadly force by a private person to apprehend a fleeing felon must be reasonable under the circumstances, which is a factual question that should be left to a jury.


M.C.L. Sec. 764.16; M.S.A. Sec. 28.875 provides, among other things, that private persons may make an arrest for felonies committed in their presence. However, the statute fails to address the issue whether a private person may use deadly force. We therefore turn to the common law.


The common law recognizes two categories of justifiable deadly force used by a private person: where the person making the arrest is met with force from the person being arrested and where force is necessary to prevent the flight of a suspected felon. People v. Whitty, 96 Mich.App. 403, 411, 292 N.W.2d 214 (1980). Because the facts here do not indicate that defendant perceived any threat of force by the decedent, resolution of this case hinges upon the latter category. According to this Court, the use of deadly force to prevent the escape of a fleeing felon is justifiable where the following three circumstances are present: (1) the evidence must show that a felony actually occurred, (2) the fleeing suspect against whom force was used must be the person who committed the felony, and (3) the use of deadly force must have [194 Mich.App. 597] been “necessary” to ensure the apprehension of the felon. Whitty, supra, pp. 411, 413, 292 N.W.2d 214.


Recently, the Michigan Supreme Court addressed the issue of the use of deadly force in situations involving a fleeing felon. In People v. Couch, 436 Mich. 414, 421, 461 N.W.2d 683 (1990), the Court held that the common law regarding a private person’s use of deadly force to apprehend felons was adopted by the Legislature through its fifty-year acquiescence following the decision in People v. Gonsler, 251 Mich. 443, 232 N.W. 365 (1930). Moreover, the Supreme Court, responding to Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1, 105 S.Ct. 1694, 85 L.Ed.2d 1 (1985), ruled that private citizens, unlike peace officers acting under the color of state law, are not subject to the Fourth Amendment restraints that Garner imposed. Finally, the Court reversed the Court of Appeals ruling that would permit a private citizen to use deadly force only if he reasonably believed that the felon posed a threat of serious harm to himself or others.


At the hearing on defendant’s motion to quash the information, the prosecutor conceded that decedent was in the process of committing a felony when he was shot. Thus, the first two elements of the deadly force doctrine have been established in defendant’s favor. See Whitty, supra; Gonsler, supra. This leaves the more difficult question whether the shooting was “necessary,” the resolution of which will determine whether the district court or the trial court was correct in this matter.


We conclude that the issue of necessity is one of fact that should have been left for the jury to decide. In Alexander v. Riccinto, 192 Mich.App. 65, 481 N.W.2d 6 (1991), this Court held that the determination of reasonableness and necessity was a question for the jury where the lower court had granted summary disposition in favor of an off-[194 Mich.App. 598] duty police officer who had shot a burglar hidden in the bushes outside his home. In reversing the lower court’s grant of summary disposition, this Court stated that “the determination of reasonable force hinges upon the facts of the particular case and was thus a question for the jury.” Id., p. 69, 481 N.W.2d 6, citing People v. Doss, 406 Mich. 90, 276 N.W.2d 9 (1979), and 5 Am.Jur.2d, Arrest, Sec. 81, p. 768. The Alexander case concerned a police officer who, although off duty, was subject to the strictures of reasonableness developed pursuant to Fourth Amendment considerations surrounding searches and seizures. Because defendant in this case is a private citizen, Fourth Amendment constraints do not apply. See Couch, supra, 436 Mich. at pp. 433-438, 461 N.W.2d 683 (separate opinion of Archer, J.). Thus, while we realize that Alexander is not on all fours with the case at bar, we, nonetheless, find support for the premise that the issue of necessity, if not reasonableness, is a question of fact for a jury to decide. See also People v. McCord, 76 Mich. 200, 206, 42 N.W. 1106 (1889) (brutal beating of a felon was not justified where he could have been arrested without injury to him or anyone else); People v. Smith, 148 Mich.App. 16, 384 N.W.2d 68 (1985) (use of deadly force by a private citizen against a suspected felon was not justified where the citizen knew the residence of the suspected felon and police could have arrested the suspect there). We therefore conclude that the decision to bind over defendant for trial was a permissible exercise of the district court’s discretion, because the justification for defendant’s actions was a question of fact. See Talley, supra; Sherman, supra. Consequently, we reverse the Recorder’s Court’s decision to quash the information and dismiss the charges against defendant, and we reinstate the district court’s determination. See id.


If you have been charged with a crime that you think was self-defense Ambrose Law Group can help.

Read about our NOT GUILTY verdict in Reginald Burks’ self-defense trial in Detroit at




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