Murder suspect’s attorney asks for more time to look at evidence

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published April 6, 2016

 Charles Anthony Stephens, 53, of Troy, is led into 52-4 District Court March 31 for his probable cause hearing on charges of felony murder.

Charles Anthony Stephens, 53, of Troy, is led into 52-4 District Court March 31 for his probable cause hearing on charges of felony murder.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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A man charged with felony murder in the stabbing death of a local woman in her Somerset Park Apartments home asked a judge to waive the defendant’s right to a preliminary exam within 21 days of being charged to allow the attorney time to examine evidence.

Charles Anthony Stephens, 53, of Troy, was arraigned in 52-4 District Court March 23 on charges of felony murder — which carries a life sentence — in the death of Kalpana Murali-Babu, 37, the mother of two young children.

Stephens appeared in court March 31 in orange prison garb and belly chains. He said he understood he was waiving his right under the 21-day rule.

At a probable cause hearing March 31, visiting District Court Judge Dennis Drury, filling in for Judge Maureen McGinnis, granted the request of Stephens’ court-appointed attorney, Jerome Sabbota, to change Stephens’ preliminary exam date from April 7 to April 20.

“There was no bond. That will continue,” Drury said. 

Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Jason Pernick agreed to the request, saying that one of the witnesses would be out of the country for the April 7 court date.

Oakland County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Paul Walton said he had no further comment on the case.

Sabbota said he was assigned to the case the morning of the hearing and had not had a chance to review the material. He said he was awaiting autopsy information and other evidence.

“It’s not fair to him to proceed,” Sabbota said. “He’s presumed innocent.”

Police said Stephens lived in the same apartment building as Murali-Babu. Police took Stephens into custody at 9:30 p.m. March 22. According to reports, the Troy police have had multiple previous contacts with the suspect.

Troy police Capt. Bob Redmond said police responded to a medical call of an unresponsive woman at about 5:15 p.m. March 21 and that she had been alone in her house.

“The suspect broke into the apartment, and the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed March 22 the death was a homicide,” Redmond said.

Redmond said Murali-Babu’s husband is a General Motors employee and was out of town and unable to be reached immediately because he was en route when police found his wife.

Redmond said the husband and wife are both from India.

Murali-Babu was Tamilian, an ethnic group that traces its roots to southern India and Sri Lanka.

The Michigan Tamil Sangam, Indian regional associations and Somerset Park Apartments residents organized a peace walk the evening of March 26. Troy Police Sgt. Meghan Lehman said that about 1,000 people met at the Troy Seventh Day Adventist Church on Crooks Road and walked approximately 2 miles around the apartment complex. Troy police and Mayor Dane Slater also attended.

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