Four arraigned in liquor store murder case

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published May 13, 2014

 A suspect is led to a police van following the video arraignment. All four suspects were transferred to the Macomb County Jail.

A suspect is led to a police van following the video arraignment. All four suspects were transferred to the Macomb County Jail.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — The four men allegedly involved in the March 28 killing of party store owner Basim “Basil” Sulaka were arraigned on May 12.

Magistrate Daniel Goulette presided over the charges against each defendant, with the video arraignment taking place at 41-B District Court.

Sulaka’s family was in attendance, as were family members of the defendants.

Each suspect listened to his charges while sitting in a chair in a white room, communicating with the magistrate via a video feed. When the first defendant, Darius Diaz Gaskin, sat down and Goulette began to go over his charges, Sulaka’s family wept in the hearing room.

Goulette explained to Gaskin, Clinton Rayshawn Grayson, Kenneth Hill and Jomar Robinson that their alleged actions of murder, robbery and conspiracy are punishable by up to life imprisonment, and that the firearm charge would add a mandatory two years to the beginning of any sentence.

Robinson was the fourth member of the group whose name was not originally released by authorities on May 9.

The reactions of the four men all differed during the explanations of their prospective charges: Gaskin had a blank look on his face; Hill stared intently at the camera, with an almost frightened glare; Grayson responded monotonously, eventually putting his head down at one point; and Robinson’s demeanor was unexpressive and emotionless.

Each defendant’s bond was denied. All but one of the defendants (Grayson) was unemployed at the time of the Moon Lite Party Store attack, and each defendant will be issued a court-appointed attorney.

At the end of the 20-minute long arraignment, members of one of the defendants’ families got up from their bench, turned around and sorrowfully apologized to Sulaka’s family.

Sulaka’s family declined to speak to anyone and swiftly left the court.

Following the arraignment, a press conference was held at the Clinton Township Police Department featuring Police Chief Fred Posavetz, Captain Richard Maierle, Lt. Eric Reincke, Det. Bryan Gilbert and Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith.

Posavetz and Smith fielded the majority of the questions. Posavetz called the defendants’ actions “intolerable” and said the Clinton Township Police Department, along with help from other departments in the tri-county area, discovered enough evidence after six weeks to execute search warrants and arrest the alleged men involved in Sulaka’s slaying.

Posavetz added that the residencies of the defendants are still unknown, although two of them were arrested in Clinton Township and two were arrested in Detroit.

Smith said township police have worked “night and day” since March 28, along with the help of ATF, DEA and Violent Crimes Task Force.

Smith said the fourth arrest (of Robinson) was based off an outstanding charge. Also, he added that each of the suspects were at the scene that night on March 28. Earlier reports and video surveillance footage suggested that only three men were part of that specific armed robbery.

Since each defendant was allegedly at the scene, Smith explained, it allows them to all be charged with a felony murder count.

“Unfortunately, it was an armed robbery and one of the four of them shot Basil dead,” Smith said. “Why he did it, I just don’t know.

“It’s a senseless tragedy and I’m glad we’re standing here today talking about this war in the streets.”

Questions regarding which of the suspects actually shot Sulaka were unanswered, along with what the fourth member’s role was in the robbery. Police said they wanted that evidence to be used properly in court, so that the hard work of all involved would not be for naught.

Following the press conference, media were led to a back garage where the handcuffed defendants were led, one by one, to a police van. They were all transferred to Macomb County Jail.

Sulaka’s death was the first homicide in Clinton Township in 2014. A court date has not yet been set.