Gasoline found in body of elderly man burned to death

Oralandar Brand-Williams

The 91-year-old Detroit man who was found beaten and burned to death in his home may have been force-fed a flammable liquid before he was set on fire, an assistant Wayne County medical examiner testified Tuesday a hearing for the teen accused of the killing.

Dr. Kilak Kesha said an autopsy found Paul Monchnik had a fifth of a cup of a by-product of an accelerant that was possibly gasoline. He said the victim may have been forced to drink it.

“It would have to come through the mouth,” Kesha testified in 36th District Court. “The victim could have drank it or (had it put into his open mouth while he was unconscious).”

A female relative of Monchnik gasped while listening to the graphic details about the way in which the longtime Detroiter died.

Kesha testified Dec. 14 on the first day of the preliminary examination that Monchnik was burned on more than 80 percent of his body, ranging from first to fourth degree. He also said an injury to Monchnik’s head alone would be enough to kill him.

George Stewart IV was ordered Tuesday to stand trial in the case. The 17-year-old is charged with first-degree murder, felony murder and burning a dwelling.

Judge Kenneth King said it was sad the man lived as long as he did and chose to stay in the city of Detroit only to meet his end the way he did.

“There is nothing good about this case ... at all,” King said Tuesday.

Also Tuesday, Detroit police Sgt. Brian Bowser testified that the victim’s cellphone was found in the backyard of the Stewart family home next door to the victim on the 20500 block of Bentler the day after the elderly man’s body was found in his burned out home.

In December, a gas station attendant testified Stewart bought 50 cents’ worth of gasoline and a lighter the morning his elderly neighbor was killed and set ablaze.

Odai Al-Radabi said he remembers when Stewart came into his Sunoco near Eight Mile and Telegraph with a big gas can.

“I saw this guy in the gas station,” Al-Radabi said.

The clerk told Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Latoya Willis that Stewart “looked nervous ... scared.” Al-Radabi picked Stewart out of a police lineup and also in court.

Some family members of the teen also testified last month they recognized Stewart as their relative in surveillance video from the gas station.

Stewart is next scheduled for a hearing in Wayne County Circuit Court on Jan. 19.

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