Preliminary Trial Set To Begin for Suspects Accused in Murder of Lansing Woman

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It was a very crowded courtroom Monday as attorneys for seven suspects accused in the murder of 19-year-old Shayla Johnson met with the prosecution and the judge in district court.

"We're here to determine how best to move forward with seven co-defendants," Catherine Emerson, Ingham County assistant prosecutor, said. "In all there will be 14 people on the side of the defense."

Johnson was gunned down in front of her Lansing home back in July. Witnesses said they saw several men running from the scene, some with assault rifles. But the story of exactly what happened that day has yet to be released.

In all, seven adults, plus one juvenile, are facing multiple charges including murder, home invasion and assault.

"Obviously it makes it more difficult for the court to allow each defendant to have their due process rights upheld," Attorney Andrew Abood, who represents Dion Lanier, said.

The suspects were not in court on Monday, but will be on Friday for their preliminary hearing, which from a logistical standpoint could get tricky.

Monday's conference was about ironing out those details.

"It's the simple things like having a table and a pen and paper for our clients," Abood said, "those things all become difficult for the court with so many co-defendants."

"We're going to try to make it as streamlined as possible," Charles Ford, who represents Ralphael Crenshaw, said. "But there are also eight defendants who could have eight different issues."

At the end of the day, both sides seemed to be on the same page, but as the judge explained in court, that could all change as they proceed with the preliminary hearing on Friday.

An eighth suspect, a 13-year-old boy, will not appear in district court. He will instead be tried in juvenile court.

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