Men accused of second-degree murder bound over to circuit court

By: Joshua Gordon | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published July 11, 2018






MOUNT CLEMENS — Two men accused of killing a Macomb Township man will see their case continue in Macomb County Circuit Court after both cases were bound over.

Nicholas Riddle, 39, and Jamel Bentley, 29, were charged with second-degree murder following the death of Jack Kitchen, 55, of Macomb Township, in October of last year. Police allege Riddle and Bentley robbed Kitchen and left him for dead in a field off of Oliver Street.

Riddle had a pretrial hearing June 27 in front of Circuit Court Judge Carl Marlinga, and, according to the court, no plea deal has been offered to Riddle. A pretrial conference was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Aug. 9.

Bentley appeared in front of Marlinga on July 5 as his attorney, Jeff Cojocar, attempted to quash the case. The motion was denied by Marlinga, but Cojocar was able to get Bentley’s bond lowered to $20,000 cash/surety, down from $250,000 set in 41-A District Court.

According to the court, if Bentley does post bond, he will have a GPS tether on him and is to have no contact with Kitchen’s family. As of July 6, Bentley had not posted bond. His next pretrial conference is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Aug. 8.

Cojocar said he didn’t think the prosecution had met its burden, which is why he asked for the charges to be quashed. He also had a motion granted for an expert witness.

“The people had called two witnesses earlier, including an eyewitness who saw the beating, and I think that showed my client’s involvement, or lack thereof,” Cojocar said.

Macomb County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to Oliver Street on Oct. 5 after receiving a call from a resident who found Kitchen lying in a field near the caller’s home. Kitchen had visible injuries and was unable to speak, according to police.

Kitchen died on Oct. 25 due to his injuries following an alleged beating involving Riddle and Bentley. Riddle is accused of beating Kitchen, while Bentley is accused of aiding and abetting by helping dump Kitchen in the field.

Tips during the investigation led the Sheriff’s Office to Riddle and Bentley before warrants were issued for their arrest. The two were originally charged with assault to do bodily harm and unarmed robbery, but charges were upped when Kitchen died, according to court documents.

Second-degree murder carries a sentence of up to life in prison.

Teri Beals, 18, was also arrested at the same time as Riddle and Bentley and charged with lying to a police officer. Her lawyer, Jayne Labuda-Szymanski, said Beals would not give up information on where the men were when asked by police.

Beals, who was 17 at the time of the incident, accepted a plea in June under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, Labuda-Szymanski said, and was sentenced to time served. Labuda-Szymanski said the prosecution may call Beals as an adverse witness if Riddle or Bentley go to trial.

“(Beals) refused to give up the whereabouts and she has had no contact with them since,” Labuda-Szymanski said. “She actually had zero to do with the incident and what happened. As long as she stays clean, she will be fine.”

Riddle’s lawyer, Sheila Miller, did not return a request for comment by press time.