Lansing Murder Cases Separated for Trial

By: Jamie Edmonds Email
By: Jamie Edmonds Email

It's a case that's been complicated from the start. Initially, seven men were charged in the July murder of 19-year-old Shayla Johnson, but only four of them were bound over for trial.

Monday the prosecution asked that the cases be separated for clarity's sake.

"We would have three separate juries," Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Catherine Emerson said.

The judge agreed, so Dion Lanier and Demetris Kline will be tried separately --Mustafa al-Din and Walee al-Din will be tried together.

Attorney's for the brothers plan to challenge that ruling. Walee al-Din's new attorney claims his client wasn't there the night of Johnson's murder.

"There are two very antagonistic defenses," Brendan Basiga said. "We think that will be tough for a jury to wrap their heads around."

Mustafa al-Din's attorney objected to the separation in the first place, worried what the media attention might do to the potential jury pool.

"I'm concerned if a defendant is tried in December, then another in January, we're going to have published reports of witness testimony, and evidence," Scott Mertens said.

But Emerson said most of the details were already exposed in the preliminary hearing.

She also said two of the four defendants have confessed.

What exactly was confessed by Lanier and Kline is not clear, if they will be admissible in trial is yet another issue.

"I believe if I weren't to separate this case, we'd have years and years of appeals," Judge Rosemary Aquilina said.

Kline will most likely be tried first. His case, prosecutors said, should only take a few days.

A juvenile has also been charged. His trial will be held in juvenile court.

The trial dates for the adults have not been set -- but most likely will be held in January.


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