Resident faces open murder charge in Fern Street shooting

Royal Oak Review | Published October 29, 2015




A local man faces up to life in prison if found guilty of shooting to death a 28-year-old Madison Heights man during the middle of the night Oct. 26.

Fern Street resident Kirk David Leach, 27, was arraigned the morning of Oct. 29 before 44th District Court Judge Derek Meinecke and charged with one count of open murder and one count of possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony. Leach faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for the shooting death of Kenith Tyran Walter. The judge entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of the suspect and no bond was set.

When asked if he had a lawyer or if he needed one appointed by the court, Leach said he had the name of an attorney written on his arm, but Leach wasn’t sure how to proceed.

“I would like to give him a try,” Leach said to the judge.

Meinecke said a court-appointed attorney also would be assigned to make sure the suspect had legal counsel for his Nov. 6 probable-cause hearing.

Leach called out to a small gathering of people in the courtroom to get him a good attorney.

The group appeared to be there in support of Leach and were visibly shaken up to see him brought into the courtroom.

Following the arraignment proceedings, a woman with the group yelled out as he was being escorted from the courtroom.  

“I love you. I’m sorry,” the woman yelled. “Call me.”

She then yelled out, “He did not kill him. He did not murder him.”

Meinecke ordered the group to be quiet, telling them that was enough. The woman left with the supporters without talking to the media.

“We’re certain we have the right person,” said Royal Oak Police Chief Corrigan O’Donohue. “But that is what the trial is for. But we’re certain we have the right person.”

Royal Oak Police Department Detective Donald Van Ochten said Leach was found in the 6100 block of Henry Ruff in Garden City after the ROPD Criminal Investigations Division identified him as a suspect; Leach was in custody approximately 12 hours after the department was notified that a man had been brought to Beaumont Hospital at about 1:30 a.m. with multiple gunshot wounds.

“During the course of the subsequent investigation, it was determined that the defendant — Kirk David Leach — did at 2802 Fern Street in the city of Royal Oak intentionally shoot and kill Kenith Tyran Walter,” Van Ochten said. He said that the weapon used in the shooting was recovered during the investigation and that an autopsy found the cause of death was homicide due to multiple gunshot wounds and complications from gunshot wounds.

O’Donohue said someone from inside the home drove Walter to the hospital, but O’Donohue would not comment further on the driver’s involvement in the case, other than to say the driver was in the house at the time of the alleged crime.

Police are not revealing many details of the case, but they did say they believe the two men were in a dispute before the shooting. Police said both men knew each other.

According to police, Leach has a misdemeanor record including prior convictions for possession of marijuana, retail fraud, driving while license suspended, driving without a license and possession of open intoxicants in a motor vehicle.

According to Oakland County Circuit Court records, Walter recently was released from prison after he served six years for first-degree home invasion.

O’Donohue said the case leading to the arrest of Leach was a joint effort between the Royal Oak, Troy and Garden City police departments along with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force and the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office.

Police originally arrived at the home on Fern Street — east of Rochester Road between 12 Mile and 13 Mile roads — in the middle of the night Oct. 26 and cordoned off the neighborhood.

This is the second killing in Royal Oak in the past two weeks.

David Douglas Davis was arraigned and charged with the Oct. 12 killing of his girlfriend, Theresa Diamos, in their North Altadena home, near Gardenia Avenue and Campbell Road.

“They were completely unrelated,” O’Donohue said of the two homicides.

O’Donohue said he was proud of his officers and credited his force for long hours and diligent work in both cases.

Anyone with information regarding either case is asked to call Royal Oak Police Lt. David Clemens at (248) 246-3456.