Suspect to stand trial for murder of his Wayburn neighbor

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published October 11, 2013

 Defense attorney Ray Paige listens to testimony in Grosse Pointe Park Municipal Court Oct. 10 while representing his client, Myron Tyronne Williams, who is seated on the left.

Defense attorney Ray Paige listens to testimony in Grosse Pointe Park Municipal Court Oct. 10 while representing his client, Myron Tyronne Williams, who is seated on the left.

Photo by Deb Jacques

They don’t have a made-for-TV-ready case with incontrovertible DNA evidence, but Wayne County prosecutors hope  circumstantial evidence will produce a murder conviction for suspect Myron Tyronne Williams, 42.

However, it’s precisely that lack of physical evidence that has Williams’ court-appointed attorney, Ray Paige, questioning the prosecutors’ case against his client, who stands accused of killing his neighbor, Sabrina Gianino, at the flat she shared with her boyfriend in the 1300 block of Wayburn between the late night of May 15 and the early morning of May 16, 2013, possibly between the hours of 10 p.m.-midnight.

Molly Kettler, an assistant prosecuting attorney with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, brought forward 11 witnesses for a daylong preliminary examination for Williams Oct. 10 in front of Judge Carl Jarboe in Grosse Pointe Park Municipal Court . The hearing followed a finding by the state’s Center for Forensic Psychiatry that Williams was competent to stand trial — an examination Paige had requested at a hearing July 15 in front of Jarboe. Witnesses included Park Detective Jeremy Pittman, the lead investigator on the case; a couple of inmates who shared adjoining jail cells with Williams; self-professed former Detroit crack dealer Antonio “Montana” Mitchell, who claimed to have sold the drug to Williams; and the Wayne County medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Gianino.

That testimony included an assertion from Mitchell that Williams had traded a laptop computer — later found to have been stolen from Gianino’s flat — for a $20 rock of crack cocaine the night she was found dead, roughly between the hours of 10 p.m. May 15 and midnight May 16. Mitchell alleged that Williams also left behind an iPod and a cellphone at his home that night, both of which were later determined to have been stolen from Gianino’s flat.

Dr. Francisco Diaz, an assistant medical examiner with the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office who conducted the autopsy on Gianino May 17, said the victim “died as a result of … ligature strangulation and blunt force trauma to the head.” He said it wasn’t clear what was used to cause the head trauma. The victim had alcohol and diazepam — better known as Valium — in her system at the time of the killing, according to a toxicology screening, and Diaz said that could have made it easier for her killer to subdue her. Although strangulation usually takes roughly three minutes to cause death, Diaz said he couldn’t say for certain the exact time of death for the victim. He also said there were no defensive wounds on Gianino.

Although the victim’s boyfriend, Bruce Hunsinger, testified that he found an unresponsive Gianino on the floor of a bedroom when he got home from work after midnight May 16 and that her pants and underwear had been pulled down to her knees, Diaz said he found no evidence to suggest Gianino had been sexually assaulted.

Paige challenged binding over the case for trial.

“There’s no question there was a murder, but the record of whodunit is woefully inadequate,” he said. “We’ve got to separate the issue of receiving and possessing stolen property (from the issue of) murder.”

Jarboe agreed that prosecutors didn’t produce “direct evidence,” but he felt the standards to bind over the case for trial had been met.

“In this case, we have some pretty strong circumstantial evidence, I believe,” the judge said.

Williams didn’t testify himself, but at times could be seen vigorously shaking his head as he listened to some of the witnesses, demonstrating his nonverbal disagreement with their assertions.

Following the hearing, Paige said the evidence only shows that his client had been in possession of the stolen items, but doesn’t prove when he obtained them.

“The judge called it a circumstantial-evidence case, meaning there’s no one to corroborate the evidence in the case,” Paige said. “I think they’re going to have a very big challenge at the trial.”

The case remains far from over even for the police who’ve been investigating it for the last five months.

“This is all part of the judicial process, and we agree with the court’s decision to bind it over (for trial),” Park Public Safety Chief David Hiller said after the hearing. “We will be prepared for the next level (of legal proceedings).”

Reached separately after the hearing, Kettler voiced a similar sentiment.

“We’re pleased that our case has been bound over for trial, and we will proceed to the next stage of the proceedings,” she said.

Williams will be back in court for an arraignment at 9 a.m. Oct. 17 in Wayne County Circuit Court in Detroit. He is being held without bond in the Wayne County Jail.