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Grosse Pointe Park

July 29, 2013

Murder suspect Williams to undergo competency evaluation

The preliminary examination for Myron T. Williams, 42, of Grosse Pointe Park, has been postponed to allow time for Williams to undergo a competency evaluation to determine if he’s capable of standing trial.

During what had been scheduled as Williams’ preliminary exam July 29 in front of Park Municipal Court Judge Carl Jarboe, Williams’ new court-appointed attorney, Ray Paige, asked for the competency hearing. Williams stands accused of the murder of his next-door neighbor, Sabrina Gianino, 35, who was strangled at the home she and her boyfriend shared in the 1300 block of Wayburn the night of May 16. Williams was arraigned July 15 on charges of first-degree murder, felony murder and unarmed robbery in Park Municipal Court. Jarboe said the suspect also is facing a charge for being a habitual offender.

Based on the information he’s seen in discovery and his own interview of Williams, “I think it’s best if we refer him to (a) competency (hearing),” Paige told the judge.

“The people don’t have any objection to that,” responded Molly Kettler, an assistant prosecuting attorney in the homicide unit of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.

Jarboe approved the delay, saying that Williams would undergo a competency evaluation by the state’s Center for Forensic Psychiatry. He asked the attorneys to sign the form for the order before they left the court.

Paige said he isn’t suggesting that Williams is insane or was insane the day Gianino was murdered, but he does have reason to believe his client may suffer from mental health issues.

He requested delaying the preliminary exam 60-90 days for the competency evaluation, saying that there’s currently a backlog at the clinic. Jarboe rescheduled the preliminary exam to 8 a.m. Oct. 10, with a provision that it could continue into Oct. 11, if needed. Kettler said the hearing could take a couple of days, because she anticipates calling about 10 witnesses to the stand.

“I expect this to be a lengthy exam, with quite a number of witnesses,” Kettler said. “I’ll make every effort to be expeditious. … There are a number of witnesses required because of the nature of the case.”

Paige told Jarboe he didn’t believe he’d be calling any witnesses of his own for the preliminary exam.

Although he hasn’t been on the case long, Paige said he hasn’t seen solid proof that Williams committed the murder, and said he was asking people that “they not rush to judgment” with his client.

“I think there are some disturbing things as to how the case has been prosecuted,” Paige said after the hearing. “This is a circumstantial case involving receiving and concealing stolen property. At the end of the day, (the prosecutors) are going to have a nearly impossible task of proving the case.”

Paige said he’s thus far received “no proof” Williams was ever inside Gianino’s house.

“I welcome the Grosse Pointe (Park) police, the prosecutor, to give me something that (shows) my guy was in that house, that my guy was involved in the strangulation of this woman,” he said.

Paige said the theory prosecutors have is that Williams was, at one time, in possession of an iPod, cellphone and computer stolen from Gianino’s home, and that this may have been the motive for her murder. He said the stolen electronics eventually made their way to some “very unsavory characters,” and law enforcement officials are trying to trace these stolen goods back to Williams.

“If I was conducting the investigation, I’d keep it open and keep searching for the truth,” Paige said. “Probable cause is one thing. Trying to prove it at trial is another.”

Although Williams does have a prior criminal record, Paige said it’s a “minor criminal history,” and he said there’s nothing in his background to make one believe he would have made the leap to murder. Law enforcement officials said Williams was convicted of a drug offense in Louisiana, where he lived before moving to Michigan.

“Whoever was involved in this (crime) was a monster,” Paige said of the person responsible for Gianino’s violent death. He’s convinced his client is not that person, and while he couldn’t elaborate, he said Williams does have an alibi for his whereabouts the night of the murder.

Given the information he’s gotten from the investigators and prosecutors, Paige said there were other persons of interest who were interviewed in this case.

“I know that there were other suspects,” he said.

Paige said he isn’t saying that his client wasn’t in possession of marijuana — a charge that prosecutors eventually dropped in favor of pursuing murder charges against Williams. But being in possession of marijuana “doesn’t equate to murder,” the defense attorney said. Paige doesn't think his client is a killer, and he feels prosecutors lack proof, such as DNA evidence, that would put Williams at the scene of the crime.

“It’s hard to contradict science,” Paige said. “This woman was brutally strangled. I’m looking for a blood trail. I’m looking for scratches.”

Park Public Safety Chief David Hiller said the case is now in the hands of the judicial system.

“The system is there,” he said. “Let the system do its job.”

At press time, Williams was being held without bond at the Wayne County Jail.