PontiacJune 20, 2012
Cipriano will have competency exam
By David Wallace
C & G Staff Writer
The suspects accused of killing a Farmington Hills father and severely injuring his wife and son made their first appearances in Oakland County Circuit Court June 19, where a judge granted one attorney’s request to have his client examined for competency and criminal responsibility.
Judge Shalina Kumar arraigned Tucker Cipriano, 19, and Mitchell Young, 20, on charges of murder, assault and robbery 11 days after a district court judge decided that enough evidence existed for them to stand trial. Police and prosecutors believe the two men killed Cipriano’s father, Robert Cipriano, and severely injured mother Rose and brother Salvatore, 17, inside the Cipriano home during the early morning April 16. Police testimony during the preliminary examination in district court indicated that the attack involved baseball bats.
A friend’s testimony during the preliminary exam indicated that Cipriano had broken into the family home, where he was no longer living, twice earlier that evening to get money.
Neither Cipriano nor Young spoke, and Kumar entered not-guilty pleas for them. Kumar arraigned Young first, then Cipriano, and each hearing took little more than five minutes.
Mitchell Ribitwer, Cipriano’s attorney, asked for his client to undergo a competency and criminal responsibility examination. The prosecution had no objection, and Kumar approved the examination and set Cipriano’s next court appearance for 1:30 p.m. Sept. 4.
“I’m trying to ascertain whether Tucker is competent to understand what’s going on,” said Ribitwer after court. Ribitwer said that some things Cipriano has said in their conversations have caused Ribitwer to question his client’s mental status and his ability to remember certain events.
Ribitwer said his client has a long substance abuse history, not just the widely reported use of K2, or Spice, but also other drugs, and the defense is researching the long-term effects. While voluntary intoxication is not a valid defense, Ribitwer said that if Cipriano is mentally ill because of long-term drug abuse, “voluntary intoxication is not what happened on that day.”
Kumar set Young’s next court appearance for 1:30 p.m. July 31.
“I have some motions that I want to prepare and file,” Young’s attorney, Michael McCarthy, told Kumar. He said he was waiting for a copy of the preliminary examination transcript, which likely will become available in a few weeks.
One of the motions will contest whether Young voluntarily gave a statement to police or understood what he was doing when he gave the statement. Ribitwer said that “in all likelihood,” he would also contest Cipriano’s statement to police.
“I would say that’s a pretty standard type of motion to file,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy also plans to file a motion to quash the general information, meaning he believes the district court erred in binding over his client for trial. McCarthy argued at the preliminary examination in 47th District Court June 8 that nothing on the examination’s record implicates his client in the crimes with which he is charged.
In general, a motion to quash the general information could ask for a case to be dismissed or a charge reduced. McCarthy does not know at this point how he will address each count against his client.
Another motion will request separate trials for the defendants, McCarthy said. The separate trials motion stems from the statements Cipriano and Young made to police.
“Both Tucker and Mitch Young have made statements, and their statements kind of put it on the other guy,” Ribitwer explained.
There seems little chance that either defendant will take the witness stand, leaving McCarthy without the o
portunity to question Cipriano and Ribitwer without the opportunity to question Young. The result is that each defendant’s statement may only be used against him, not his codefendant. For that reason, McCarthy said that the case calls for at least separate juries, if not separate trials.
Salvatore Cipriano transferred
On the same day as the circuit court arraignment, Botsford Hospital Vice President of Community Relations, Marketing and Development Margo Gorchow sent a statement to the media that the hospital had released Salvatore Cipriano to a rehabilitation facility.
“It (is) with a great deal of caring and hope for his continuing recovery that we share the news that Sal was discharged late this morning to a rehabilitation facility with a specialty unit for closed head injury patients.
“The staff at Botsford has become very close with Sal and his family during the two months that he was hospitalized at Botsford. We will be thinking about Sal and his family for some time hoping to hear that their health and lives are moving forward,” Gorchow said.
In May, Botsford discharged Rose Cipriano to a rehabilitation center.
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