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Court pushes back exam dates for crash survivors

Bobchick arraigned on second charge, Narra ordered to undergo drug testing

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published August 27, 2015

 Defendant Joseph Narra, left, and defense attorney Colin Daniels address 42nd District Court Judge Denis LeDuc Aug. 27.

Defendant Joseph Narra, left, and defense attorney Colin Daniels address 42nd District Court Judge Denis LeDuc Aug. 27.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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On Aug. 27, Gregory Bobchick, 17, and Joseph Narra, 18, both of Shelby Township, appeared before 42nd District Court Judge Denis LeDuc for their preliminary examinations on charges of minors consuming, purchasing or possessing alcohol in relation to a May 8 car crash at Stony Creek Metropark.

Bobchick and Narra were passengers in the car that crashed. The crash killed three of their peers who also were in the car.

Despite adjourning the exams at prosecutor Colleen O’Connor Worden's request so that she could look over discovery she received less than a week ago, LeDuc still issued orders for both young men and arraigned Bobchick on an additional charge.

LeDuc arraigned Bobchick on the charge of allowing an intoxicated person to operate a motor vehicle, which Worden recently filed after she further reviewed the case.

The minor-in-possession charges for both men carry a 30-day jail sentence and/or a $100 fine. The amended charge for Bobchick is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.

LeDuc scheduled an evidentiary hearing to go over letters that defense attorney James Lawrence submitted on Bobchick’s behalf. Lawrence said the letters were “from agencies declaring that the defendant is having serious psychological problems, and this prosecution is making them worse.”

A traumatic brain injury Bobchick sustained in the crash was the source of the problems, Lawrence said.

Despite Lawrence’s claim to have submitted the letters nine days prior to the hearing, LeDuc said he had not seen them and would allow the defense and prosecutor to call witnesses at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 10.

LeDuc also denied Lawrence’s request to limit Bobchick’s drug tests from Sundays and a random day of the week to just Sundays. Lawrence said the uncertain nature of the testing would cause his client to miss school and lose sleep.

“He does seem to be doing well in the testing program,” LeDuc said. “I want Mr. Bobchick to, of course, be safe and taking care of himself, but I also have a duty to the public as well, who is concerned with this. A minimum of twice a week is appropriate.”

LeDuc expressed disappointment with Lawrence for not revealing at the Aug. 10 arraignment that Bobchick received a subsequent MIP charge out of Shelby Township July 4.

Lawrence said he felt he did not have to divulge information the court did not request and that the MIP resulted after being admitted to a hospital for medical treatment.

Lawrence said that at the Sept. 10 hearing he intended to pursue his motion questioning the constitutionality of the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office “shopping” for another prosecutor to charge the crash survivors after the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office dismissed criminal charges. He said he also intended to argue the basis of the additional charge under the reasoning that his client was unaware that the driver of the vehicle was intoxicated.

He added that he might file additional motions after further consulting the discovery in the case.

In Narra’s case, LeDuc opted to issue no bond but required that Narra be randomly drug tested a minimum of twice per week and incur no further charges.

“I was going to go to college, but I just wanted to wait until I made a full recovery until I did that,” Narra told LeDuc when the judge questioned what he was doing after receiving his high school diploma. He stood before the judge with a cane, accompanied by his parents.

Karen Narra, Joseph Narra’s mother, said the family intended to pursue therapy for him once he recovered more.

“He has three full days of physical therapy a week, and he’s on pain medication. He has extreme pain because of the extent of his injuries,” Karen Narra said. “He was 36 days in the hospital and in a coma, so he’s still recovering. He just got his leg and neck brace off only a week ago, and he is on continuous monitoring 24 hours.”

Colin Daniels, who stood in for Narra’s defense attorney, Neil Rockind, said Joseph Narra would be receiving a medical marijuana card in the mail soon and used marijuana a couple of times in the past few months when he was having pain issues. He said he advised his client that the court would not allow him to use marijuana.

“When he gets (the medical marijuana card), as an officer of the court, I order you to have it surrendered,” LeDuc said.

Joseph Narra is scheduled to appear at the 42nd District Court in Romeo at 9 a.m. Sept. 24 for his preliminary examination.

Daniels declined to comment further on the case.

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