Mitchell Young broke down and cried during his video arraignment Wednesday. He pleaded not guilty in the attack with a baseball bat. (Photo by Daniel Mears / The Detroit News)
Farmington Hills — Sobbing uncontrollably, one of two young men charged with killing a Dearborn school official proclaimed his innocence Wednesday as he and the man's son were arraigned in the baseball bat attack that critically injured two other family members.
"I didn't do any of those things," said Mitchell Young, 20, as he cried and put his head down on the table in front of him. "I don't know what to do — oh, my God!" As he spoke, Young clutched at the hospital gown he was wearing.
Young had been the mysterious second person police identified as carrying out the savage attack Monday that killed Robert Cipriano, 52, and injured the school official's wife, Rose, 51, and their 17-year-old son Salvatore in the family's Farmington Hills home. Rose and Salvatore Cipriano remained hospitalized Wednesday in critical condition.
Young and the couple's son, Tucker Robert Cipriano, 19, pleaded not guilty to identical charges of first-degree premeditated murder, first-degree felony murder, armed robbery and two counts of assault with intent to murder. If convicted, both men could be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Both were arraigned before Judge Marla Parker in 47th District Court by video from the Oakland County Jail.
Tucker Cipriano and Young requested that attorneys be appointed for them, and pre-exam conferences were scheduled Friday for both men.
After Young broke down, Assistant Oakland County Prosecutor John Skrzynski said, "It's a shame this young man didn't show the same compassion when he systematically cracked open heads inside that house."
Police have said the attackers may have broken into the home looking for money.
Beyond entering his not-guilty plea, Tucker Cipriano did not address the charges against him, but he did speak about missing a meeting earlier this month with the state officer supervising his probation for a drug conviction. The probation officer was suspended Tuesday by the Michigan Department of Corrections, which is investigating how Cipriano was supervised.
"I didn't show up for a probation meeting, but I've been talking to my probation officer about that today," Cipriano said.
Friends of Cipriano attended the arraignment Wednesday, including Christine Frederick of Farmington Hills, who said she took him in for a while. Frederick said Cipriano loved his father, and she doesn't think he could have killed him. "I can't believe he did that," she said.
Police were alerted to the baseball bat attack at the home at 2:48 a.m. Monday by Salvatore's twin brother, Tanner. Tanner had discovered a struggle between several family members and the intruders. He scooped up his 8-year-old sister while he hid in the home and called 911, police said.
Police said the victims were found in various parts of the house, and there had apparently been a struggle with the attackers. Police said Young was arrested as he tried to run upstairs in the home, located on a short, scenic gravel road with large lots in an area west of Orchard Lake Road and north of 11 Mile. Tucker was arrested at a Keego Harbor address about 8 a.m. Monday when his 2002 Ford Ranger was seen parked outside.
Police said they were aware that Robert Cipriano had struggled to cope with his eldest son over the past year.
Tucker Cipriano has convictions in the past three years for possession of marijuana and morphine, and has been seeing counselors since second grade. He had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
In January, he wrote Oakland Circuit Judge Michael Warren from the Oakland County Jail, asking whether he would have to "wait until after I am done with probation to enter the Marines."
Tucker Cipriano was jailed after being convicted in October for a June incident in which he was spotted buying drugs behind a 7-Eleven store in the Nine Mile and Middle Belt area.
When searched, he was found with a 50-milligram morphine pill and was charged with possession of a controlled substance under 25 grams.
Tucker Cipriano failed all his classes in the 2008-09 school year and failed to attend summer school, despite his vow to give it his best effort.
In May 2009, he was arrested for smoking marijuana and being in possession of marijuana on school grounds. He was put on intensive probation in May 2010 after he was caught drinking alcohol at school out of a Gatorade bottle. He dropped out of school in October and was no loner living with his family.
According to a juvenile referee's report in January 2010, Tucker Cipriano was seeing both a psychiatrist and psychologist.
Cipriano was released from jail Feb. 24 after serving part of a sentence for drug possession but last reported to his probation officer on March 15, Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan said, adding that Cipriano failed to report as ordered on April 5.
His arrest in the attack on his family led the department to suspend Cipriano's probation officer, who has not been identified, with pay.
"If you can't find somebody, you're supposed to go ask the judge for a warrant," Marlan said. "There's a lot of supervision standards that all of our agents are to comply with. This agent was suspended while we investigate whether or not the supervision standards were met."
The suspension of Cipriano's probation officer follows the suspension of four parole or probation officers after two other Metro Detroit homicides in the past five months.
Two parole agents were suspended in February after two parole absconders under their supervision were charged in the Nov. 20 slaying of Nancy Dailey, 80, of Royal Oak, Marlan said.
Several days before Dailey was stabbed and beaten to death in her home, agents knew the two parole absconders — Alan C. Wood and Tonia Watson — had violated their paroles and could have been sent back to prison.
A parole agent and her supervisor were both suspended under similar concerns regarding Joshua Brown, who allegedly killed a 12-year-old girl in Wayne County in January after his release, Marlan said.
Marlan said on Dec. 12, 2011, Department of Corrections director Daniel Heyns ordered that every caseload of its 1,300 parole and probation agents be reviewed annually for 70,000 ex-convicts released from prison under the program.
"This is part of his eight-point program to develop a better relationship with law enforcement and to promote public safety," Marlan said Wednesday. "We're still working on it and there is no deadline."