Husband deemed fit for trial in Dejohn murder

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published March 2, 2015

 Loyd Dejohn appeared alongside his attorney, Timothy Barkovic, in Warren’s 37th District Court for a competency hearing Feb. 26.

Loyd Dejohn appeared alongside his attorney, Timothy Barkovic, in Warren’s 37th District Court for a competency hearing Feb. 26.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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WARREN — Family members of Loyd and Kim Dejohn said separately and candidly what seemed obvious to everyone when she disappeared and was later found dead, and he was charged with murder.

By all accounts, the couple had a troubled marriage of a dozen years. Time and again they’d fought and made up, only to fight some more.

Kim Dejohn’s sisters said she was a scrappy tomboy who could take care of herself most of the time. They said usually, if someone crossed Kim, they’d pick her to come out on top.

Loyd Dejohn’s mother and grandmother said he fell from a second-floor room they lived in over a barbershop when he was a toddler, and that his skull had smashed into his brain.  He turned 2 years old in the hospital, had a metal plate inserted in his head at age 5, and lived his life suffering from headaches. As a result, they said he often fought when he grew agitated.

During a competency hearing in the 37th District Court on Feb. 26, a forensic psychologist testified that Loyd Dejohn, now 47, was fit to stand trial for his wife’s murder.

Dr. Jennifer Whitmore testified before Judge Matthew Sabaugh as an expert witness. She said she interviewed Loyd Dejohn for three hours on Sept. 25 and administered a series of psychological tests about a month later.

Whitmore said Dejohn was found to be of “low-average” intelligence but that he understood the charge against him. She also said he was cooperative and that his mood matched what should be expected given the circumstances of the interview.

“I believe he had the functional capacities during our interview to be found competent to stand trial,” Whitmore said during questioning by prosecutor Bill Cataldo, chief of homicide in Macomb County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Smith’s office.

Defense attorney Timothy Barkovic unsuccessfully argued that the forensic examination didn’t go far enough to assess what impact the head trauma Loyd Dejohn that experienced as a child had on his current psychological state.

“The basis of an expert’s opinion may always be questioned,” Barkovic said.

But Sabaugh said the doctor’s testimony was sufficient to deem Loyd Dejohn competent and to allow the criminal case to proceed.

Kim Dejohn, 51, was last seen leaving her home on Sherwood, just north of Eight Mile Road, early on May 14. Police said Loyd Dejohn never reported his wife missing but that he made misleading statements about her whereabouts when questioned by family members.

Kim’s sister reported her missing two weeks later, and Loyd Dejohn was arrested at a motel in Madison Heights.  He was jailed on an assault charge on June 3 that was later increased to murder after Kim Dejohn’s body was found in the yard of a dilapidated, foreclosed property on M-68 in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula, east of Indian River.

Investigative leads led Warren investigators to the site, which was later checked by Tuscarora Township police. Detectives from the Warren Police Department, accompanied by a Michigan State Police K-9 unit, searched the site and found the grave on June 18.

“I never really expected him to go this far. They would fight and make up,” said Dawn Hyslop, Kim Dejohn’s sister. “I believe what happened on that night, I really believe my sister said she’d had enough. I believe she was going to leave him. He believed that she wasn’t going to go anywhere.”

Loyd Dejohn’s mother, Ann Johnson, said her son was troubled at home and at work, where a coworker had pushed his head into a wall, aggravating his nearly life-long head injury.

“He had a lot going on in his marriage, and a lot going on there (at work),” Johnson said. “Kim was very aggressive. She was bigger than he was. She wanted everything but didn’t want to work to support the family.”

Another of Kim’s sisters, Brenda Ernst, said she now just wants justice for her sister.

“We can’t bring her back,” Ernst said.

Loyd Dejohn remains held on a $500,000 bond. A preliminary examination will be held next to determine if he’ll stand trial for murder. The date for the hearing had not been set at press time.

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