SAGINAW, MI – Did a Saginaw man defend his home when he fatally shot and killed a potential intruder? Or did he willfully murder his neighbor while she was outside his home?
These are the competing theories that lawyers put forward during a preliminary exam for 37-year-old Calvin Joshua Jr. on charges of open weapons of murder and crime. The hearing took place on the morning of March 25th before Saginaw District Judge AT Frank.
Saginaw District Assistant Prosecutor Melissa J. Hoover began the hearing by calling Saginaw Police Officer Alex Mawer to the booth. Mawer testified that he responded to a shooting in the early hours of October 9 on 2017 Delaware St., a duplex where Joshua was halfway through.
Mawer arrived to find 48-year-old Stacey D. Johnson outside Joshua’s house, lying on her back in a pool of blood under a window. Joshua was at the scene and told police he shot the woman and added the gun he was using was in the trunk of his vehicle, Mawer said.
“Mr. Joshua told me that he heard footsteps outside his house and that he heard noises on the roof of his house,” Mawer said. “He stated that he believed a window on the north side of the venue was breaking He said his blinds were broken there so he could see part of the window and that he could see someone wearing a red shirt and he thought his house was being broken into so he shot about five to six times out of the window. “
Joshua didn’t say the person said anything outside of his home, Mawer said. He also said the person was actually not allowed into his home, Mawer said.
Hoover asked Mawer what Joshua had said to him after the shooting.
“He advised me that after firing the five or six shots from the window, he saw a woman lying on the floor he didn’t recognize,” Mawer said. “He was scared so he went to Genesee Street Market to buy a Black & Mild and then called his mother, advised her about what had happened, and after talking to his mother, he called 911.”
Police found three used 22-caliber cartridge cases in Joshua’s house near the window he shot through, Mawer said.
Under cross-examination by defense attorney Alan A. Crawford, Mawer said Johnson was not wearing shoes when police arrived. Joshua also told Mawer that he saw a woman in his back yard a few days before the shooting.
“He fired those shots while protecting his house from a possible intruder, right?” Crawford asked Mawer.
“He didn’t say those exact words,” Mawer said.
After Mawer resigned, Michigan State Police Detective Trooper Peter Oskvarek took the stand. He said investigators found that Johnson lived on Delaware St. in 2009. The only place of residence between her and Joshua was the vacant half of Joshua’s maisonette.
Oskvarek said he interviewed Joshua at Saginaw Police Department within hours of the shooting, which took place around 1:30 a.m.
“He informed me that he heard noises a few days before the shooting,” said Oskvarek. “He said it sounded like steps could possibly have come from the roof, or the attic, or right next door. He also said he saw a white woman leave his back yard when driving to his apartment when he came home from work. He said she was carrying a small dog and was shivering and he thought it was suspicious. “
Joshua said he was asleep when the noises woke him up just before the shooting, Oskvarek said.
“He said at first that the noises were like footsteps, loud knocking followed by a light knock,” said Oskvarek. “He wasn’t sure if it came from his house or not, so he picked up his gun.”
Joshua said he took his 22 caliber rifle and walked through his house to make sure no one was inside. Then he looked out his kitchen window, saw a red shirt and opened fire, said Oskvarek.
Joshua told police he didn’t know Johnson, Oskvarek said. After the shooting, Joshua was away from home for about half an hour calling relatives before calling 911, Oskvarek said.
Crawford asked Oskvarek if he’d worked on cases of home invasion where a burglar cursed a house before breaking in. The detective replied that he has.
In Johnson’s house, police found a small dog, her prescribed medication, an empty fifth from Crown Royal and a shoe that matches a shoe found in a storm drain between her and Joshua’s apartments, Oskvarek said. Investigators never learned why Johnson was without shoes when they found them, but it seemed like she left her apartment with only one shoe, Oskvarek said.
“We know she had some mental health problems, right?” Asked Crawford.
“Right,” replied the detective.
A toxicology report showed Johnson “had quite a bit in her system that day,” Crawford said. Among the psychiatric drugs in Johnson’s System, quetiapine, an antipsychotic used to treat mental and mood conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and sudden episodes of mania or depression, Crawford said.
Johnson also had fluoxetine on her system, a drug Crawford said could cause confusion, difficulty concentrating, and memory problems. When asked if he was aware of these side effects, Oskvarek said it was not.
Another drug found in Johnson’s system was trazodone, which Crawford said has a side effect of increasing the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior. Other substances found in Johnson’s system are used to treat opiate withdrawal and epilepsy, Crawford said.
“We have a woman who is out of her house at 1am with no shoes on and there is no investigation into why she could have been out there?” Crawford asked Oskvarek
The detective replied that investigators had contacted Johnson’s family, adding that they had no toxicology report at the time.
After Oskvarek finished testifying, Hoover asked the judge to put Joshua’s case in the Circuit Court for trial. She said while Crawford appears to be setting up a defense for the Castle Doctrine – allowing residents to use lethal force to protect themselves from intruders – should the matter be decided by a jury. Crawford declined to be bonded, saying prosecutors had not fulfilled their burden of determining the likely cause of Joshua’s intentions to kill Johnson.
“This is a justified murder,” said Crawford. “You have the right to protect your home. This is one of the most securely guarded things we have in our constitution, home. He felt like someone was breaking in and he was protecting his home. “
Judge Frank ruled in favor of the prosecutor and tied Joshua’s case to the higher court. Joshua’s next court date is still pending.
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