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Preliminary exams set for 3 in French artist's killing

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — Mental evaluations for two of the three adult defendants accused in the killing of a French street artist living in the city indicate they are competent to stand trial.

JasinCurtis, 18, and Drequone Rich, 20, were cleared to take part in their preliminary examination Dec. 23, along with Dionte Travis, 17. The attorney for Travis did not seek a psychological competency evaluation.

The lawyers for all three asked Friday for exams to determine if their clients were competent enough to waive their Miranda rights.

The results of those reports have not been completed by the local forensics center which conducted them. Those reports are back next week.

Defense attorney Allison Folmar, who is representing Rich, said after the hearing at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice she "has another issue with this alleged statement" Rich gave to police about the crime.

A preliminary exam will determine if there is enough evidence to bind the three over for trial in the robbery and murder case.

On Wednesday, a fourth defendant charged in the death of artist Bilal Berreni was found competent to stand trial, according to a forensics and psychological competency report released in juvenile court. The 14-year-old is due back in court Dec. 4. He was 13 at the time of the slaying.

The four defendants are believed to be part of a city gang which preyed on outsiders in the east-side neighborhood near the city's cultural center and the area near Interstate 75 and Brewster. Gang members are believed to have robbed and killed Berreni outside the abandoned Brewster Homes public housing project July 13, 2013.

About $300 was taken during the robbery and the 14-year-old received $50, according to confession read by a Detroit police homicide investigator during a September hearing for the youngster. According to the confession, the youth said he spent the money on "weed" and junk food.

The boy faces trial in juvenile court on first-degree murder and other charges. He could be sentenced as a juvenile or adult.

Artist Bilal Berreni, 23, was killed outside Brewster Homes in 2013.

Berreni, 23, was living in Detroit at the time he was killed. He didn't have identification on his body and it took authorities until March to identify him through DNA and fingerprints.

Detroit Police homicide inspector Ira Todd said Berreni's family is expected to come from France next month to attend the preliminary hearing and face the defendants charged with killing their son.

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