Anthony Webster trial date set for June 3

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published March 5, 2014

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MOUNT CLEMENS — The trial date for Anthony Webster, an Eastpointe man who stands accused of killing his wife, Christina Lazzana-Webster, around Jan. 25, 2013, has been set for June 3 at the 16th Judicial Circuit Court in Macomb County.

During Webster’s pretrial conference Feb. 25, Webster’s recently retained attorney, Tim Barkovic, said he would need a longer period of time than the initially suggested 30 days to review all of the information, like lab reports and crime reports, and to meet with officers from the Eastpointe Police Department.

Barkovic also requested a few pieces of potential evidence be discarded for the jury trial, including speculative evidence from a witness regarding phone calls with Lazzana-Webster, the woman who was killed, as well as “speculation” by police on Webster’s mental state after the murder occurred.

“It’s noted in several reports that her husband showed no emotion,” Barkovic said. “They want to draw inferences on what was going on in my client’s head based on what was going on at the time of the murder, and he could have been in shock at the time.”

Cory Newman, serving as the prosecution from the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office, argued that there is footage of Webster’s booking as evidence of his emotional state, and that in similar cases, witness testimonies help show marital discord. Judge Peter Maceroni said he would take both perspectives under advisement.

Lazzana-Webster and Webster were co-owners of Big Top Popcorn in Eastpointe until she was found shot in the chest in the couple’s home Jan. 26, 2013. At Webster’s preliminary exam in 38th District Court Feb. 28, 2013, it was alleged that both he and his wife were having affairs, and Kimyana Reece, a friend of Lazzana-Webster, testified that her friend felt unsafe and wanted to leave.

A search by police Jan. 26, 2013, at the house allegedly found 17 guns registered to Webster, as well as Lazzana-Webster’s Lexus, missing. One handgun was found loaded in the driveway. The Lexus allegedly was found four days later in Detroit, blocks from Webster’s parents’ house, while cellphone records indicated that his phone pinged off the cellphone tower near the murder scene four times that day — at 3:11 p.m., 3:33 p.m., 9:28 p.m. and 10:16 p.m.

The killing was estimated to have taken place around 7:30 p.m.

During the district court preliminary exam, Webster’s attorney at the time, Randall Upshaw, whom Barkovic replaced Feb. 4, 2014, argued that the evidence against Webster was circumstantial, and that the prosecution could not prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that Webster was at the scene of the murder.

Upshaw pointed out that Webster allegedly had attempted to file a report in August 2012 that said Lazzana-Webster stole his handguns. Additionally, he said Webster’s cellphone pinged off the tower near his mother’s home around 8:46 p.m.

Judge Carl Gerds agreed the evidence was clearly circumstantial but still felt that, added together, it was strong enough to bind over to circuit court.

“In this particular case, when you compile all the circumstantial evidence … and you take the main facts — that the victim was found in the bedroom of the defendant; that the defendant had numerous guns in the home; that those were all removed from the home; that she was killed with a gunshot; there’s a loaded gun found in the front yard, which is rather unusual in and of itself, on the day after a murder occurred, on the day that the body was found — compiled with the cellphone records, which clearly strengthen the prosecutor’s case that the defendant was at the scene, or certainly near the scene … these are clearly independent observations and facts that support one another,” Gerds said at the time. “And for that reason, I do believe the prosecution has met their burden, and I am going to bind the matter over on the charges as submitted, and as contained in the complaint, second-degree murder and the felony firearm charge.”

The trial is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. June 3 at the Macomb County Courthouse.

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