Teen murder trial dates scheduled
By ROY REYNOLDS
NEWS COURTS REPORTER
An end is approaching in the pretrial hearings triggered in Washtenaw Juvenile Court and Circuit Court when Steven Stamper and Christopher Machacek of Ypsilanti Township were charged, in January 1987, with murdering 13-year-old Mary Anne Hulbert on Dec. 30, 1986.
On Monday, when Stamper’s trial was scheduled to start, Circuit Judge Henry T. Conlin conducted one more pretrial hearing and rescheduled Stamper’s trial for “my first available day,” Sept. 19.
The judge also re-affirmed Machecek’s previously announced trial date of July 5, and said he intends to rule on all pretrial issues before that date.
Both defendants were 16 when Hulbert’s execution-style murder was committed in a Superior Township field. Stamper and Machecek both turned 18 a few weeks ago.
The youths have been held at the Washtenaw County jail since they were charged with her murder on Jan. 7,1987.
Conlin heard final arguments Monday from Machecek’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Richard C. Digon and Stamper’s attorney, Jeffrey G. Strouss, on motions seeking court orders to prevent Chief Assistant Prosecutor Robert L. Cooper from presenting two pieces of evidence to the the jury - when one is drawn.
The evidence includes tapes of statements describing the murder given by the two youths when they were interviewed on the day of their arrest and two .22-caliber rifles and ammunition detectives found in Stamper’s home.
Digon declared that detectives illegally obtained Machacek’s taped description of Hulbert’s murder, with no voluntary waiver of his rights to demand a lawyer and to refuse to answer.
Cooper said the lengthy hearings last year before Juvenile Court Judge Judith J. Wood, and this spring before Judge Conlin, show that detectives fully respected the constitutional rights of Stamper and Machacek when questioning and arresting them.
Strouss noted that Judge Wood, in a ruling not binding on Judge Conlin, found that Stamper’s taped statement could properly be used as trial evidence, but that the decision was wrongly based on a Michigan court case in which a murderer gave a confession after he learned he had been implicated by a voluntary statement to police by a member of his family.
Stamper’s taped account of Hulbert’s murder is not comparable, Strouss argued, because it was given after detectives played a taped statement Machacek made moments earlier.
Machacek was not an “independent” source of information, Strouss argued. He said the detectives “played these juveniles off against each other ... It became a circus.”