Suspect in road rage death ransacked victim's pockets amid blows, prosecutor says

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — A 24-year-old man accused of assaulting a motorist, ransacking his pockets, and then continuing to beat and kick him until he died was denied bond Wednesday after he was arraigned on a murder charge.

Lawrence Davis was arraigned via video in Detroit's 36th District Court for allegedly beating 24-year-old Tyler Wingate of Detroit on July 22, following a traffic accident near West Davison and Livernois on the city's west side.

Taylor Wingate graduated from Berkley High School, where he played football and basketball.

During a six-minute proceeding Wednesday, 36th District Magistrate Laura Echartea read the charge of open murder to Davis, and then told him he'd be remanded to the Wayne County Jail until his scheduled Aug. 14 probable cause hearing.

Assistant Wayne County prosecutor Ashley Ciaffone said the fatal incident started when Davis drove his 2007 Chevy Impala into oncoming traffic, smashing into Wingate's 2011 Buick Regal. 

After the crash, authorities say Davis and a passenger exited the vehicle and walked to a nearby gas station.

"The defendant gets out of his vehicle irate and searching to start a fight," Ciaffone said during Wednesday's hearing. She said Davis punched Wingate, knocking him to the ground.

Lawrence Davis appears in 36th District Court via video for his arraignment on open murder charges

"(Davis) then searched the victim's pockets," Ciaffone said. "The victim gets back up, defenseless, woozy ... and the defendant continues to assault the victim until he's unconscious and laying there.

"But that's not enough for the defendant, who then goes back and kicks the victim in the head," Ciaffone said. 

Police say after the assault, Davis ran away.

Wingate was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy by the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office revealed he died of blunt force trauma to the head and neck.

Davis was on the lam for eight days until police arrested him Tuesday in a west-side apartment building. 

"Because of the charge, there's not going to be any bond," Magistrate Echartea told Davis. "A person's life was lost. Terminated. Do you understand?"

"Yes, ma'am," Davis said.

Wingate's friends and family have adorned trees in Berkley with white ribbons in his memory. Tyler Wingate graduated from Berkley High School in 2013.

Several relatives attended Wednesday's arraignment, many of them wearing white ribbons. They declined to comment, although later Wednesday, the family released a written statement:

"Our family will forever miss Tyler," the statement said. "He always wanted to help others and believed Detroit was a great place to live. We are committed to fulfill his dreams.

"Today we join Tyler and focus on sharing the good things happening in Detroit. We will be part of the change and do our part to build a safer city and begin building a stronger community, one where everyone feels safe," the statement said.

After the arraignment, a woman who said she was the defendant's aunt remarked outside the courthouse: "I'm sorry for their loss. (Davis) didn't mean to do that. Mistakes happen."

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN