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Detroit man faces charges for murder, carjacking allegedly committed after sentencing delayed

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit — An 18-year-old Detroit man faces a combined 22 felony charges in two separate cases, including an alleged carjacking in July and a fatal crash last week — all while he awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to three felonies in a different case.

The latest alleged incident, which left a woman in her 30s dead, took place Saturday afternoon on Detroit's east side, the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office said. 

The fatal crash took place about 4:40 p.m. Police arrived in the area of East Seven Mile and Chalmers on a report of a stolen vehicle and allegedly spotted 17-year-old Dion Davis drag racing.

When he pulled into a gas station on the 14400 block of East Seven Mile, the Prosecutor's Office said, police arrested him. 

That's when suspect Zaire Vaughn, 18, allegedly slid over to the driver's seat and took off speeding, southbound on Chalmers. 

Zaire Vaughn

When he reached Seymour, Vaughn allegedly ran a right light and crashed into a vehicle driven by Jiwyna Harlan, who had three minor children with her.

Harlan, who was in her 30s, died at the scene.

Davis faces charges of driving with a suspended license and drag racing. A personal bond was set at $25,000 at his arraignment. He was released and would only owe the money if he fails to show up to court. He's due for a pretrial conference on Aug. 25 before Judge Lynise Bryant.

After the crash, police found a weapon in the vehicle, which had been stolen, the Prosecutor's Office said. 

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy charged Vaughn with nine felonies in the crash: second-degree murder, reckless driving causing death, operating with a suspended license causing death, first-degree fleeing and eluding the police, carrying a concealed weapon and four counts of felony firearm.

36th District Magistrate Malaika Heath-Ramsey denied him bond at his arraignment Tuesday.

Vaughn is due in court on Aug. 18 for a probable cause conference.

His legal troubles started just weeks after he turned 18 in January, court records show. Detroit Police Department officers arrested him for carrying a concealed weapon.

Worthy charged him with three felonies in that case: carrying a concealed weapon, felony firearm and resisting/obstructing the police.

In February, Vaughn pleaded guilty to the three offenses, and on March 26 he was to be sentenced. But that sentencing never took place, said Kathy Murphy, Vaughn's defense attorney in the matter.

It was adjourned due to the COVID-19 crisis and has not yet been rescheduled.

Wayne Circuit Judge Donald Knapp, who handled the case, could not immediately be reached Tuesday, as court was in session. 

Despite the lack of a sentencing, the guilty plea in the January case meant that when Vaughn faced gun charges in a July 11 carjacking, one of them was felon in possession of a weapon.

Vaughn is one of four people charged in that carjacking case, and faces 13 felonies: carjacking, felon in possession, seven counts of felony firearm, receiving and concealing a stolen vehicle, unlawful driving away, assault with a dangerous weapon, and carrying a weapon with unlawful intent. 

Magistrate Laura Echartea of Detroit's 36th District Court gave Vaughn an $85,000 bond at his arraignment Monday. Even if he were to post that bond, he would still be held due to the reckless driving case.

Vaughn's attorney in that case, Ronnie Strong, was not immediately available to comment.

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