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September 26, 2012

Teen charged in attack that killed his father found competent for trial

By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

A 19-year-old accused of killing his father and severely injuring his mother and brother was deemed competent to stand trial, but his criminal responsibility at the time of the act remains in question.

 

Tucker Cipriano, 19, appeared at the pre-trial hearing before Judge Shalina Kumar in Oakland County Circuit Court Sept. 25.

 

A forensic psychologist deemed Cipriano competent to stand trial, though the report did not address his state of mind at the time of the attack.

 

Cipriano and Mitchell Young, 20, have been arraigned on charges of murder, assault and robbery. Police and prosecutors say the two men killed Robert Cipriano, Tucker Cipriano’s father, and severely injured Tucker Cipriano’s mother, Rose, and brother Salvatore, 17, inside the Cipriano home April 16. Police said during the preliminary exam in district court that the attack involved baseball bats. A friend’s testimony during the preliminary exam indicated that Tucker Cipriano had broken into the family home, where he was no longer living, twice earlier that evening to get money.

 

Young is scheduled to appear in court Sept. 26.

 

Tucker Cipriano’s attorney, Mitchell Ribitwer, said the question of his client’s criminal responsibility would likely be determined in another month. He noted that regardless of the outcome of that report, he and the prosecutors will likely solicit independent exams to determine if Tucker Cipriano was criminally responsible, or legally insane, at the time of the incident. Ribitwer said he believes that based on research, Tucker Cipriano could be psychotic as a result of abusing K-2 and other substances for “a number of years.”

 

Ribitwer said he and Young’s attorney, Michael J. McCarthy, will seek to sever the joint trials of their clients. Ribitwer said that at an evidentiary hearing set for Oct. 31 he will move to suppress Tucker Cipriano’s “untrue” statements to police.

 

He said Tucker Cipriano is “very subdued, and more and more depressed.” Tucker Cipriano had spoken to an uncle, Ribitwer said, and heard a report that his mother had attended a high school football game and Salvatore was walking in rehab.

 

Ribitwer said separate trials would likely involve moving separate juries in and out of the courtroom during witness testimony. Separate trials are needed because each suspect’s statements implicate the other, he said. He added that the trials will likely not occur until early next year.

 

It is unlikely that either defendant will take the witness stand, leaving Young’s attorney without the opportunity to question Tucker 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.

 

Staff Writer David Wallace contributed to this report.

 

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Terry Oparka at toparka@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1054.