Man dies at Wayne Co. Jail during six month delay for hearing in arson case

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit — A 48-year-old man died last week at Wayne County Jail, and autopsy results are pending on his cause of death.

He was in jail awaiting a preliminary examination that had been delayed six months as he faced an arson charge.

Police and medics were called about 6:30 a.m. on Thursday to the Division 1 Wayne County Jail facility. That's at 570 Clinton in downtown Detroit.

Inmate Tinyko Preuitt had died.

There was no obvious trauma to his body, police said. The Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office says his autopsy results are pending.

Preuitt had been jailed since Oct. 14 on a single charge: arson, preparation to burn a dwelling.

The fire took place seven months prior, on March 30, at about 8:45 p.m. on the 7400 block of St. Mary's, said Officer Holly Lance, a Detroit Police Department spokeswoman.

Police say the homeowners weren't there at the time. A 44-year-old man is listed at the victim. The two men are known to each other, police said, and Preuitt lived close by.

At his arraignment, Preuitt was given a $50,000 bond, 36th District Court records show, and assigned attorney James Humphries of Dearborn.

Judge Ronald Giles was assigned the case.

Preuitt's probable cause conference was held Oct. 23. His preliminary examination was scheduled for a week later, Oct. 30.

Humphries, Preuitt's attorney, said that due to the "evidence-heavy" nature of the case, he felt it would be better if the examination were held in-person, rather than on Zoom.

The date Giles assigned was April 16, roughly six months later.

At an in-person examination, a defense attorney can better object to witnesses and better confront evidence, Humphries said.

"When a witness makes a statement and you rise and you object, the judge stops them from speaking as the objection is considered," Humphries said. 

He contrasted that to the Zoom experience, where an objection may not be heard and a witness may not immediately stop talking. 

"I've done both, but in this particular case I felt it was important do it in-person," Humphries said.