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Crime Jackson woman accused of murder can use duress defense, Michigan Supreme Court says

01:06  01 april  2020
01:06  01 april  2020 Source:   mlive.com

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The Michigan Supreme Court ’s unanimous opinion agreed with the defense that duress can be used as a defense to murder in any form. The trial court granted the defendant’s pretrial motion to raise duress as a defense to murder . The appeals court said she could not and now the Michigan

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JACKSON, MI – The Michigan Supreme Court will allow a Jackson woman to use duress as a defense to murder.

a person posing for the camera: Tiffany Reichard appears for a miscellaneous hearing in front of Jackson County District Court Judge Thomas Wilson on Tuesday, June 25, 2019. Reichard is charged with open murder for the violent death of Matthew Cramton, 56, who was stabbed in his bed Jan. 23, 2009. © Mary Lewandowski | MLive.com\r\r/mlive.com/TNS Tiffany Reichard appears for a miscellaneous hearing in front of Jackson County District Court Judge Thomas Wilson on Tuesday, June 25, 2019. Reichard is charged with open murder for the violent death of Matthew Cramton, 56, who was stabbed in his bed Jan. 23, 2009.

Tiffany Reichard, now 28, is charged with one count of open murder for the violent death of Matthew Cramton, 56, who was found stabbed to death in his home Jan. 29, 2009.

Her then-boyfriend, Michael Beatty, confessed he killed Cramton, stabbing him 91 times during a botched robbery. Beatty was sentenced to life without parole in 2017.

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Reichard is accused of helping with the robbery, which led to Cramton’s death. Her attorney, Michael Faraone, argued Beatty physically abused her and she participated in the robbery under duress.

The Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office objected to the duress defense and filed an appeal. The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled duress cannot be a murder defense. However, the Michigan Supreme Court overturned that ruling in a unanimous opinion filed March 30.

Duress can be a defense for murder if it is a defense to an underlying felony, Justices David Viviano, Bridget McCormack, Stephen Markman, Brian Zahra, Richard Bernstein, Elizabeth Clement and Megan Cavanagh wrote in their opinion.

“The opinion reaffirms the concept of personal responsibility,” Faraone said. “People should be held criminally responsible for their own acts and choices, not those of others.”

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Michigan Supreme Court . Office of the Reporter of Decisions. Michigan Appellate Opinion Manual. US Supreme Court Cases Fed Circuit Court Fed District Court Mich Constitution. Citation clauses are used when a citation relates to only part of a sentence.

When Reichard’s case returns to Jackson County Circuit Court, the jury can be told about the duress defense, if it is requested by Faraone and supported by the evidence, the opinion said.

“We respectfully disagree with the opinion,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jerry Jarzynka said. “At this time, we are reviewing the opinion for our next steps.”

The schedule for upcoming court dates is unclear because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The courthouse is closed until at least April 6, with only select hearings happening.

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The supreme court’s ruling changes the common law about duress as a murder defense, overruling two cases from the 1990s. This new opinion does not allow duress to be a defense for all murder charges. In part, the defendant must produce evidence “from which a jury could conclude that the threatening conduct was sufficient to create in the mind of a reasonable person the fear of death or serious bodily harm,” the opinion read.

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Realistically, you commit the murder , then plead with the court for leniency, on the grounds that you had no choice. You admit to murder that is the underpinning of your process. THEN you proceed to use the Accordingly, the defense of duress is available in this Commonwealth as to a charge of

Reichard was granted a $100,000 bond in August 2018. However, she is still lodged at the Jackson County Jail as of Tuesday, March 31, records show.

Woman charged in brutal 2009 murder issued $100,000 bond

She was 17 at the time of the incident and there is no indication she participated in the stabbing itself, records show. Prior to her arrest, records show that Reichard told police she picked Beatty up from Cramton’s home and he was covered in blood.

She later changed her story, admitting she helped plan to rob Cramton, believing he had money and drugs.

She told investigators she parked near Cramton's home and, with the intent to rob, she was to knock on the door to get Cramton to open it so Beatty could rush in wearing a mask and demand money and drugs while she was to be a lookout, court records show.

Reichard then told police after the murder she poured perfume on Beatty's clothes and burned them in a grill, records show.

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