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— A couple has been charged in connection with the robbery and murder of a longtime elderly resident.

The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office has charged Andrew Jeffrey Nutt, 22, of Westland and Miriah Nichole Pisarski, 19, of Detroit in connection with the homicide of 76-year-old Kenneth LaBita.

Police found LaBita dead Monday at his home in the 40000 block of Gilbert when neighbors noticed his dog running around outside his home and the garage door up. LaBita died of a gunshot wound to the head. Police say he was shot at point-blank range with a small caliber handgun.

Nutt and Pisarski allegedly shot LaBita in the late afternoon of Oct. 24. Police said the couple stole cash and guns from the home before fleeing.

Police said the pair was arrested Wednesday night after investigators followed up on leads from other police departments and tips from the public.

The motive for the crime appeared to be robbery, police said, and the victim and one of the suspects knew each other.

The victim's home was ransacked and several handguns have not been recovered, police said Friday.

Nutt and Pisarski were each charged with first-degree premeditated murder, felony murder, larceny of firearms and felony firearm. They were arraigned Friday in 35th District Court in Plymouth before Judge Michael Gerou.

LaBita's sister, Sally Lemus, said Nutt is a son of LaBita's friend, but she said she didn't know any more details about why the young man is accused of killing her brother.

Lemus thanked the Plymouth Township police for making quick arrests in the case. She said a memorial luncheon will be held in her brother's honor.

She said the incident "sickens" her and the killing has shaken "such a wonderful community as Plymouth Township. ... This has changed the community forever."

A neighbor of LaBita's came to the court hearing to see the two accused of the fatal shooting.

"I cannot wrap my mind around why someone would want to do this," said Jeni Morse as she sat in Gerou's courtroom before the start of the arraignment.

Morse said LaBita, a widower since 2012 who lost his daughter in 2008, planned to move back to Tennessee.

Morse described LaBita as a neighborhood fixture who had "passionate" conversations on a lot of subjects. She said he would scrap for items he could sell at antique shops or online.

"You either liked him or you didn't," Morse said. "He was very passionate on certain subjects but he was always nice to me."

LaBita always waved at her when she saw him, Morse said.

The couple were denied bond and sent back to jail. They are due back in court Nov. 14 for a preliminary examination.

bwilliams@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2027

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