Do you think evidence is needed to convict a man of murder?
What if that evidence was lost or damaged?
In December of 1983, Andrew (Melvin) Wether was murdered in Highland Park, Michigan. Just like a scene out of a movie, Melissa Kountz, who had been there on that December day, said that she woke up to the sound of her mother’s voice. She tried turning on the lights only to find that they were not working. Kountz said that she saw a “dark shadow” and “I could smell like a stale stench of cigarette smoke”. Possibly to cushion the sound of the creaky floors, someone had left brown shoes with sponges.
The case had gone cold until Melissa Kountz called Detective Paul Thomas of the Highland Park Police Department in February of this year. In July, William (Bosco) Lyles Jr. was arrested in Oak Park for first degree murder. Yesterday, he was ordered to stand trial at the Wayne Circuit Court.
Lyles had a relationship with Kountz’s mother. According to the Detroit Free Press:
“Kountz described Lyles’ relationship with her mother as violent and abusive. She said he lived with her family for about four years before moving out in the summer of 1983.”I also remember him blaming Melvin for all of their problems,” Kountz testified. “He said … he was going to get Melvin.””
Kountz identifies Lyles as the shadow she had seen that December day in 1983. Not only that, but she identifies the brown shoes also belonging to Lyles. Kountz testified that Melvin had been stabbed through the chest and the knife was poking out of his back.
However, the former Wayne County Medicial Examiner, Sawait Kanluen, also testified earlier saying there had been no exit wound. With that, the defense is questioning Kountz’s memory.
With this case being almost a 30 year old case that can come with a price, the evidence such as the photographs, the knife, Lyles’ diary that is said the hold murder vows, the shoes and the police reports were not maintained. Thomas said this:
“We’re not focused on what’s missing, what didn’t happen, what should have happened,” Thomas said. “We think we can win this case strictly on circumstantial evidence and the evidence of the eyewitness.”
What do you think? Is there a need for evidence in a 29 year old case?