ESCANABA -A 15-year-old Perkins girl, accused of stabbing her mother at their home last month, will go to trial in probate court on a charge of assault with intent to murder. The court made the decision during a preliminary hearing Thursday. As a juvenile, she could be incarcerated up to age 21 on the felony charge.
The juvenile suspect appeared in probate court wearing ankle shackles and handcuffs secured to a leather belt around her waist. Her attorney, Timothy Cain, accompanied her along with John Economopoulos, a lawyer appointed as court representative to consider the juvenile's best interests during the court process.
The victim, her 41-year-old mother, sat in court with scars on her forehead and legs. Her right knee and left hand were wrapped in bandages.
Two Michigan State Police troopers from the Gladstone Post provided testimony on their investigation of the domestic dispute/stabbing they responded to in Perkins during the early morning hours of June 28.
According to police, the girl admitted she stabbed her mother after they had gotten into an argument and her mother had tried to hit her and pulled her hair. The daughter chased the mother out of the house and then threw the knife at her. The mother went next door where a neighbor called 9-1-1. The mother was in possession of the knife when the troopers arrived.
Several pieces of evidence were also presented during the preliminary hearing including a butcher knife with an 8-inch blade, 93 photographs taken by police, and the victim's medical report from OSF St. Francis Hospital.
A key exhibit -a tape recording of multiple 9-1-1 phones calls made after the stabbing - was the first piece of evidence presented Thursday.
Around 2 a.m., dispatchers were talking to both the juvenile suspect, who first called 9-1-1, and a neighbor next door where the mother fled. The daughter said she was scared of her mom and stabbed her. She then chased her mom out of the house with the knife which she threw at her. The young girl told the dispatcher, "There's blood everywhere. I'm so scared."
Meanwhile, the neighbor told the dispatcher the mother was breathing but needed an ambulance because she was stabbed in several places and there was blood all over the floor. The dispatcher asked the neighbor to put pressure on the wounds. At one point, the neighbor expressed concern the woman was going to pass out.
Prosecuting attorney Jim Soderberg based his closing argument on the girl's 9-1-1 calls including the first statement she told the dispatcher, "I tried murdering my mom." Soderberg said this statement has a significant meaning and were the first words out of the defendant's mouth.
Defense attorney Cain said he disagreed with the prosecutor and said the 9-1-1 recordings were not from a murderer but were from a frightened 15-year-old who was defending herself with a knife.
"There is no evidence of malice or forethought," Cain said. "There was all kinds of evidence of self-defense."
Economopoulos agreed no weight could be assigned to the defendant's statement on murder. He said the record reflected the daughter tried to defend herself.
"You can't have it both ways," Economopoulos said, reminding the court the juvenile had initiated the 9-1-1 call for help. There have also been incidents within the past two years when the issue of removing her from the home arose, he added.
After weighing all the testimony and evidence presented Thursday, Juvenile Hearing Referee Perry Lund said there was probable cause the crime was committed by the defendant. He authorized the juvenile go to trial on the charge of assault with intent to murder. Self-defense would be a question of prior fact or a matter for the jury to determine, he added.
The suspect remains lodged in Bay Pines Youth Detention Center in Escanaba where she has been since her arrest on June 28. Cash bond remains at $50,000. No trial date has been set.
Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, firstname.lastname@example.org