Drug possesser , does he have a right to defend ?
Victim, suspects charged
Sides may testify against each other under new immunity law
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
BY SUSAN L. OPPAT
The Ann Arbor News
Three young men accused of plotting to rob a Lima Township homeowner for marijuana - including a teen who was shot in the back as they fled - are now facing charges for their alleged roles in the incident.
And prosecutors may force the teens and the homeowner, who also is facing charges, to testify against each other under a relatively new immunity law.
Police say Skyler J. Galloway, 18, Daniel L. Buckenburger, 20, and Bradley J. Tyler, 20, went to a home in the 9000 block of Dexter-Chelsea Road on Nov. 11 to rob the homeowner of drugs. The homeowner confronted the young men, and Galloway was shot in the back as they ran, police said.
The night of the shooting, police arrested the homeowner. Gershom L. Avery, 53, is scheduled to appear in court Thursday on charges of assault with intent to commit murder, assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, felonious assault, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and manufacture of marijuana, State Police Detective Sgt. James Bundshuh said.
Prosecutors recently levied charges of attempted home invasion and conspiracy to commit home invasion against the three young men. They turned themselves in for arraignment and were released pending preliminary hearings this Thursday and Dec. 20.
Avery is being held in the Washtenaw County Jail without bond. Bundshuh said the 9-mm rifle bullet that struck Galloway came within millimeters of his heart before it exited his chest.
Avery, who previously had a contract with The Ann Arbor News to deliver newspapers, has called The News several times from jail and wrote a letter complaining about the charges and the State Police.
Avery wrote that when he told State Police he was the victim in the crime - and that his home had been burglarized six times and his safe was cracked - Bundshuh arrested him and let the men go who tried to break into his house.
"I think that the Michigan State Police believed any crime against me was justified if marijuana was involved,'' he wrote.
Bundshuh said Tuesday that Avery never called police about any of the break-ins, and Avery told him the safe had been burglarized months earlier.
Authorities also said last month that Avery had a "good-size growing operation'' in the crawl space under his house and had rigged his property with fake explosives and nails to prevent intruders from getting to the house.
Deputy Chief Prosecutor Steve Hiller said Tuesday that charging people on both sides of a crime has happened before - but prosecutors now have a relatively new tool aid them. In the past, people charged with crimes couldn't be forced to testify against others if it incriminated them, but a judge can now force testimony under a "use immunity'' statute. That means any statements they make on the stand will not be held against them.
Hiller would not say whether "use immunity'' will be applied in this instance.
Susan Oppat can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 734-482-1166.
Should the homeowner also be charged with the shooting ?
The growing of marijuana is already illegal so we wont discuss that charge .