Man pleads no contest in Detroit police sergeant death

The Detroit News

A 22-year-old man pleaded no contest Thursday to being guilty but mentally ill in the death of Detroit police Sgt. Kenneth Steil.

The move by Marquise Cromer came amid his trial in Steil’s death. As part of a sentence agreement, Cromer faces 38-75 years behind bars for second-degree murder. He also must serve a two-year consecutive sentence for a felony firearm violation.

Cromer’s plea ends the trial. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 1.

Cromer also is accused of shooting his father, Sterling Cromer, in the foot, and another man he allegedly tried to carjack during a crime spree in September 2016. It began with the ambush shooting at the father’s home in the 2100 block of Dickinson on Sept. 11, 2016.

Cromer shot Steil, a 20-year Detroit police veteran, in the shoulder the following day during a manhunt on the city’s east side in the area of Seven Mile and Hayes.

Cromer also pleaded no contest to guilty but mentally ill to the charge of assault with intent to murder in the dad’s case. A sentence agreement in that case will bring him a 5-10 year concurrent prison term as well as a mandatory two-year consecutive prison sentence for a felony firearms violation.

Cromer also pleaded no contest to being guilty but mentally ill to carjacking. Under a sentence agreement, he will serve a consecutive prison term of 20 years to 30 years along with another consecutive term for felony firearm.

Before the plea deal, Cromer appeared disinterested in the second day of his trial. He often would bow his head and appear to be falling asleep at times.

Cromer’s father testified in the first day of the trial that his son shot him in the foot around 5 p.m.

Sterling Cromer, 62, said he ran out of his east side home after he was shot and saw Marquise Cromer with a sawed-off shotgun at his side. The father said his son came up behind him and shot him in the family’s home.

“I heard a loud pop sound,” Sterling Cromer testified. “I glanced. (Marquise) tried to hide the sawed-off shotgun.”

The elder Cromer said he ran to a neighbor’s house and later discovered his son had stolen a van belonging to him and his girlfriend.

Marquise Cromer allegedly confronted a 23-year-old Hamtramck man, ordered him out of his vehicle and shot him in the stomach.

The next night, police received a 911 call that a man fitting Cromer’s description was seen at a restaurant on Seven Mile near Hayes. Steil and other officers saw Cromer, and Steil was shot trying to apprehend the suspect.

In his opening statement, Cromer’s attorney said he “had no intent” to kill a police officer but that he is mentally ill and has had emotional problems since he was a child. He said Cromer was prescribed anti-psychotic medication at the age of 6 and tried to take his own life when he was 9.

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