Suspects' waivers set for decision
By WILLIAM B.TREML
A Circuit Court judge is expected to decide within the next two weeks if two 17-year-old Ypsilanti Township youths were properly waived from Juvenile Court to stand trial as adults for the 1986 gunshot murder of a 13-year-old Wayne County girl.
Christopher Machecek and Steven Stamper are accused of the killing of Mary Anne Hulbert of Canton. Hulbert’s partially clad, bullet-riddled body was found in a Superior Township field in January, more than a week after she vanished from the Geddes Road trailer-home where she lived with her mother.
Sheriff’s investigators say she was murdered by Machecek and Stamper because the youths believed one of them was the father of Hulbert’s unborn child. However, an autopsy showed Hulbert wasn't pregnant at the time she was killed.
Circuit Court Judge Henry T. Conlin took under advisement Tuesday legal arguments offered by First Assistant Prosecutor Elizabeth Pollard and two defense attorneys.
Raymond Mullins represents Machecek and Jane Thurston is Stamper’s attorney in hearings appealing the waiving of their clients from Juvenile Court to Circuit Court for adult trials.
Machecek and Stamper were both 16 years of age at the time Hulbert was murdered. Under Michigan law, people under the age of 17 are tried in Juvenile Court unless waived to Circuit Court for an adult trial.
Conlin is expected to rule on issues raised by Mullins and Thurston before Jan. 11, when “Walker” hearings are scheduled in the cases. A “Walker” hearing must be held before a criminal trial to determine if confessions given police by defendants may be admitted as evidence when testimony begins.
In Tuesday’s hearing before Conlin, Mullins argued that there exists insufficient evidence against Machecek that can legally be admitted in a trial. The defense counsel also contended that even if such evidence does exist, Machecek shouldn’t have been waived from Juvenile Court.
Thurston asserted that her client, Stamper, was illegally arrested and that a statement he gave Sheriff’s Department officers should be suppressed. She argued that Juvenile Court Judge Judith Wood erred when she admitted Stamper’s statement in earlier hearings.
Prosecutor Pollard contended that the rights of both defendants were scrupulously protected by investigating officers, that Wood properly waived, them to Circuit Court for trial and that confessions given at the time of the arrests should be admitted as evidence in the trials. Each defendant has accused the other of firing the shots that killed Hulbert.
When Conlin rules on the issues of the waivers and the statements stemming from the Juvenile Court proceedings, Mullins and Thurston will leave the cases. Stamper, who is to be tried before Conlin and a jury on Feb. 22, is to be defended by attorney Norman Fell.
Machecek, to be tried March 7, also before Conlin and a jury, will be represented by Chief Assistant Public Defender Walter White.
Both teen-agers are being held in the County Jail without bond.
William B. Treml
Courts - Washtenaw County
Crime & Criminals
Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department
Ann Arbor News
Mary Anne Hulbert
Robert L. Cooper
Steven D. Stamper
Henry T. Conlin
Judith J. Wood