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February 6, 2013

Preliminary exam scheduled for murder suspect

By Sara Kandel
C & G Staff Writer

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Preliminary exam scheduled for murder suspect
Anthony Webster looks down while prosecutor Bill Cataldo and defense attorney Melonie Bates schedule an exam date in 38th District Court in Eastpointe Feb. 5.

Anthony Webster, who is accused of murdering his wife, Christina Lazzana-Webster, in their Eastpointe home late last month, is scheduled for a preliminary examination Feb. 7 in front of Judge Carl Gerds of the 38th District Court.

The preliminary exam is scheduled just two days after a pre-trial conference, which was held in 38th District Court Feb. 5.

“It’s short notice, but all parties want to get this exam in,” said Gerds during the conference.

Webster’s attorney, Randall Upshaw, was not present at the conference, which lasted only five minutes and started hours late while the court waited for his arrival. Attorney Melonie Bates stood in his place. 

“I don’t care if Mr. Upshaw was tied up with something else, I hope you make sure Mr. Upshaw knows we are not going to wait three hours next time,” Gerds said to Bates before the conference was adjourned. “This is the only case that I am scheduling for Thursday at 1:30 p.m., and we are going to start it as close to 1:30 p.m. as we can. It will start at 1:30 p.m. and I expect Mr. Upshaw to be here at 1:30 p.m.”

Calls to Upshaw were not returned at press time.

Bill Cataldo, chief of homicide for the Macomb County Prosecuting Attorney, reported to the court that he would be calling four or five witnesses during the exam, identifying two police officers and two lay witnesses, the victim’s son and sister. Following the conference, he said he was confident in the case.

“We are confident in that, after having gotten the warrant, that we should be able to prove our case for the purposes of a preliminary exam and to have it bound over to circuit court,” he said.

Webster, 45, faces two felony charges: one count of second-degree murder, which carries up to a life sentence, and one count of felony firearm. Cataldo also spoke about the second-degree murder charge.

“We aren’t saying it does or does not look like it was premeditated, but we have to be able to prove our case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Cataldo said.

“Right now, the investigation hasn’t shown factors of premeditation, but it has shown factors of specific intent, which means he intended to kill at the time he fired the weapon, and that there was not an accident and it wasn’t self-defense, so that’s why second degree was charged. But obviously the investigation continues and we’ll update the charges, if necessary.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sara Kandel at skandel@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1030.