Teens denied bond in rock toss that killed man on I-75
Flint — A judge denied bond Tuesday for five teenagers charged with dropping a rock from a highway overpass that struck and killed a motorist last week.
The five, ranging in age from 15 to 17 years of age, were arraigned Tuesday before Genesee County District Judge William Crawford, who refused attorney requests to consider bond for their clients.
“Due to the recklessness of the acts and the potential danger to the public safety, the court will order no bond for now,” Crawford said.
The defendants are charged with second-degree murder and other offenses in the death of Ken White, 32, of Mount Morris.
The teens all live in Clio and attend Clio High School. They are Kyle Joseph Anger, 17; Mark Andrew Sekelsky, 16; Mikadyn Payne, 16; Alexzander Shawn Miller, 15; and Trevor Anthony Gray, 15.
Besides the murder charge, each youth is charged with one count of conspiracy, six felony counts of malicious destruction of property and two misdemeanor counts of malicious destruction of property. All were charged as adults.
One by one, they shuffled into court Tuesday, taking seats in a jury box and staring at the floor. Anger was dressed in an orange jail garb and sandals but the others wore hooded sweatshirts, jeans and white sneakers.
Anger’s mother, sitting in the back of the courtroom, craned her neck for a view of her son, then burst into tears and cupped her hands over her mouth when their eyes briefly met.
Some of White’s relatives comforted each other in a front row — at least one muttering her approval when Crawford repeatedly denied bond.
Anger, who is accused of dropping the rock that struck White, is being held in the Genesee County Jail. The other youths, because of their age, are being held in a regional detention center.
Crawford set a Nov. 2 pretrial conference for all five defendants, who face penalties ranging from a one-year misdemeanor jail term and fines to a prison sentence of up to life.
Police said White, a construction worker and father of a 5-year-old son, was a passenger in a vehicle about 8:30 p.m. Oct. 18 when struck by a piece of concrete investigators said was intentionally dropped off the Dodge Road overpass onto Interstate 75.
The chunk, which was 5-by-8 inches and weighed six pounds, broke White’s skull, clavicle, ribs and facial skeleton.
Four other vehicles were damaged by at least 20 rocks dropped off the overpass, along with a car tire and a piston dropped from another overpass, investigators said.
Attorneys for two of the five teens said they expect facts will eventually reveal different levels of involvement in the incident.
In a court hallway after the arraignment, Erwin Meiers III, who represents Gray, declined to discuss the case other than to say there were “different levels of culpability” that will eventually come out in what he described as a “sad situation.”
Attorney Frank Manley, who is defending Sekelsky, said his client’s parents — and all the families — are “devastated” by the case and the potential punishment facing the teens.
“What happened today (no bond) doesn’t surprise me,” said Manley. “But once the facts come out (in court), I would expect we will hear there were difference in degrees of involvement ... even the prosecutor said he didn’t feel there was an intention to kill.”
During a press conference Monday, Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said, “I don’t believe that this was a deliberate attempt to take somebody’s life,” adding that he decided to charge the teens with second-degree murder rather than first-degree, premeditated murder because the incident was a “willful and wanton act that resulted in somebody’s death.
“These people should have known better,” Leyton said. “These people should have realized that their actions would cause great bodily harm or death.”
The superintendent of the Clio Area School District issued a statement of condolences to the victim’s family and said the incident should be a “stark reminder” that actions have consequences.
“This is an extremely difficult time for our entire community,” Superintendent Fletcher Spears III wrote. “Whether we knew Mr. White, those who are being charged and their families, or have driven this same stretch of road countless times, many of us have a personal connection with this senseless tragedy. This is a stark reminder that we need to impress upon all of our young people that actions have consequences; and sometimes those consequences can be tragic."
“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with Mr. White’s family, as well as his many friends during this difficult time,” Spears wrote. “As a District, we are also working to provide support to those in our school and community who have been impacted by this tragedy. Due to privacy requirements imposed by federal law, we cannot provide any information regarding the students involved.”
Francis X. Donnelly contributed.