Charges stand against driver in trooper dragging death

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Pontiac — An Oakland Circuit judge ruled Wednesday a Clarkston district judge did not err when she bound a man over for trial in the dragging death of a Michigan state trooper.

Charles Warren Jr., 69, of Waterford Township faces charges of reckless driving causing death and leaving the scene of an accident causing death in the Aug. 28, 2015, incident in which State Trooper Chad Wolf’s motorcycle collided with an unlit trailer being pulled by Warren.

Wolf, 38, of Fenton died from injures suffered when he was dragged under the trailer for nearly four miles.

Warren’s defense attorney, Neil Rockind, had asked Judge Denise Langford Morris to quash the charges, arguing they had never been substantiated before Clarkston District Judge Kelley Kostin.

But Langford Morris disagreed, saying Kostin did not abuse her judicial discretion and the issues being raised by Rockind would eventually have to be determined by a jury.

“This case is somewhat unusual and one the court doesn’t see in criminal matters,” Langford Morris said. “I can’t say that I have ever seen one like it.”

Rockind said it was dark out — around 6:30 a.m. — and Warren did not realize there had been a collision with his trailer as he pulled off Dixie Highway in Springfield Township onto northbound Interstate 75. He had mentioned he felt a “helluva bump.”

It wasn’t until Warren noticed he was having trouble pulling the trailer that he exited into a rest area and found Wolf under his trailer.

Rockind argued Wolf never drove recklessly and was not aware there had been an accident.

“Is a person supposed to stop there vehicle any time they feel a bump?” Rockind asked.

Langford Morris said Kostin was only to determine if there was probable cause to charge Warren with the offenses.

“When there is no eyewitness it is an incident to be determined on the totality of evidence,” she said. “A jury may believe him, it may not believe him. ... I’m not saying the prosecutor has an easy case here and it’s probably going to involve different issues before a (jury).”

Last month, Langford Morris ordered a higher bond and GPS tether for Warren after a non-injury traffic stop in northern Michigan. Warren’s driver’s license is suspended and he had been ordered not to drive.

Warren had been pulled over Sept. 21 near Traverse City after a police officer said he failed to properly signal on five different turns and also ran a stop sign.

Assistant prosecuting attorney David Hutson told Langford Morris that Warren’s behavior “shows a pattern of his disregard for the rules of the road” and that his bond could be revoked.

Rockind argued Warren never put anyone at danger and asked the judge to impose different conditions.

If Warren is ultimately convicted of the death-related charges, both felonies, he could be sentenced to 15 years in prison.

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