Warrior Dash paralysis lawsuit likely settled, expert says

FLINT, MI — A lawsuit filed by a former Hope College student paralyzed during a 2011 Flint-area Warrior Dash event has likely been settled, according to a legal expert.hope-student-james-sa-1339c9be71d206b2

James Sa, of Rochester Hills, was paralyzed from the chest down after he dove into a mud pit obstacle at the July 31, 2011, race held at the county’s E.A. Cummings Center, according to the lawsuit filed December 2012 in Genesee Circuit Court.

The case was eventually refiled as a federal lawsuit in Detroit U.S. District Court.

Court records show the case was dismissed June 29 with prejudice following a stipulated order from Sa and Warrior Dash’s parent company, Red Frog Events. A dismissal with prejudice means the case cannot be refiled.

Chris Hastings, a professor at Western Michigan University’s Cooley Law School, said the type of dismissal used in the case is indicative that a settlement was reached.

“Since the case has been dismissed on the parties’ stipulation ‘with prejudice,’ it appears the only two possibilities are that the claim has been compromised and settled, or that the plaintiff has essentially swapped his judicial remedy and his tort claim for a contract claim (arbitration) that will be resolved outside of the public eye,” Hastings said.

Sa’s attorney, Michael J. Behm, declined to comment on the case, citing a non-disclosure agreement. Non-disclosure agreements are often commonly included in lawsuit settlements involving private parties.

Officials with Red Frog Events and the company’s attorneys could not be reached for comment.

According to the lawsuit, Sa signed a liability waiver prior to the race that included an agreement not to dive into or enter the event’s final obstacle, a mud pit, head-first.

However, the lawsuit argued that organizers acted negligently when an event emcee enticed and encouraged participants to dive into the mud pit during the event.

“The encouragement to dive into the mud pit was so pervasive that it was common knowledge amongst the race participants that not only were they allowed to dive into the mud pit, but they were encouraged to do so,” the lawsuit claimed.

The lawsuit claimed Sa also witnessed many other people dive into the mud pit and heard the emcee encourage other participants to do so.

Sa suffered a spinal cord injury that resulted in quadriplegia because of his dive, the lawsuit claimed. He also suffered numerous other complications due to the injury, including recurrent respiratory failure and pneumonia. He required months of hospitalization after the incident.

The event has continued to be held at the county’s E.A. Cummings Center since Sa’s injury. This year, nearly 14,000 people participated in the 3.2-mile event.

If you or anyone you know has had an accident resulting in an injury, please contact The Dailey Law Firm.  The experienced attorneys at The Dailey Law Firm are eager and willing to help you find a solution.  To schedule an appointment today, call the Michigan office at 248-554-5005, the Illinois office at 312-867-8800, and the Missouri office at 855-529-7469.

Court reviews reimbursements for cancer doc’s victims

Detroit — The government restitution plan for victims of convicted cancer doctor Farid Fata was laid out in federal court Thursday as the disgraced physician looked on.

The plan would pay victims or their surviving relatives and would be split into two categories.

One would be pay for out-of-pocket expenses to those treated by Fata and the second would pay those who needed remedial medical treatment after being prescribed unnecessary drugs and treatments from Fata such as chemotherapy.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine Dick said the government has collected about $13 million of the $17.6 million forfeited by Fata. A whistleblower in the case will get 10 percent, about $1.3 million of the fund, and the rest is expected to go to the victims. The court must approve the plan.

Doctors’ statements will be required for former patients or families filing under the remedial category and no document except proof of payment will be required for the out-of-pocket expenses.

“The fraud was so pervasive that we would not require patients to have any documentation,” Dick told U.S. District Judge Paul Borman.

A claims form will be drawn up and prosecutors will get input from a few patients to make sure the form is complete before a court facilitator, approved by the judge, approves it.DRFATA

Funeral costs and other related losses will not be paid.

Former Fata patient Teddy Howard, who attended Thursday’s hearing, said he hopes the procedure doesn’t drag on.

Howard of Clinton Township said he was prescribed chemotherapy for two years by Fata for a blood cancer another doctor told him he never had. Howard had to undergo a liver transplant as a result.

“(Fata) jacked me up real bad. I have ongoing medical issues,” Howard said outside the federal courthouse. “The ongoing medical expenses can’t be determined (at one time) because they are ongoing.”

Robert Sobieray, who testified during Fata’s sentencing hearings that he lost his teeth when he also received needless chemotherapy, said Thursday he was “very disappointed” in how the plan will go so far because of the requirement of receipts.

“A lot of us don’t have the receipts,” said Sobieray, a Milford resident who sat in on the hearing. “I don’t have the credit cards I used so I don’t have the receipts.”

Sobieray says he has started his own GoFundMe page so he can raise $20,000 to get new teeth.

Sydney Zaremba, whose late mother, Helene, was a Fata patient, said “some of the recommendations are good.”

“(The federal government) is looking at the individuals as a priority,” she said.

Fata was sentenced July 10 by Borman to 45 years in prison for his part in an elaborate health care fraud scheme that involved giving unnecessary medications such as chemotherapy and iron infusions to 553 patients. He also was found guilty of submitting to Medicare and private insurance companies, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, for about $34 million in fraudulent claims.

Federal prosecutors say he prescribed medications to bolster his profits.

Also on Thursday, one of Fata’s attorneys withdrew from the case now that the sentencing of the oncologist is complete. His co-counsel Mark Kriger will stay on.

bwilliams@detroitnews.com

If you or someone you know has been the victim of medical malpractice, please contact The Dailey Law Firm.  The experienced attorneys at The Dailey Law Firm believe in what is right and will be willing to help you find a solution.  To schedule an appointment today, call the Michigan office at 248-554-5005, the Illinois office at 312-867-8800, and the Missouri office at 855-529-7469.

Roseville man accused of torture, attempted extortion

rosvillecarA 39-year-old Roseville resident faces multiple charges, including extortion and unlawful imprisonment, after police said he beat and tortured another man as the result of a business dispute.

The man, whom police have not yet identified is jailed at the Roseville Police Department awaiting arraignment, said Police Chief James Berlin.

Berlin said the incident occurred Friday evening when the two men met at the suspect’s Roseville residence.

The men were to discuss a plan in which the victim,, a 52-year-old Kentwood resident, was supposed to provide a $14,000 loan to the defendant to purchase a restaurant, police said.

When the victim refused, the Roseville man became angry, police reported. He forced the victim into the basement of the home, bound the victim to a chair and struck him several times in the head and face, police believe.

The Roseville man also used a hammer and nails on the victim that caused minor puncture wounds and threatened to harm the victim’s family, police said.

After an undetermined amount of time, during which he was physically and mentally abused, the victim agreed to telephone his employer in Southfield and asked for the money.

The Roseville man drove the victim to Southfield to meet with the employer, but instead encountered officers from the Southfield Police Department. The victim’s employer had contacted police when he suspected from the telephone call that something was amiss with his employee, police added

The Roseville man was arrested without incident.

The victim suffered minor injuries as a result of the incident. He was treated and released at an area hospital.

Because the crime was initiated in Roseville, Southfield police turned over the matter to the Roseville Police Department.

–Staff Writer Frank DeFrank

If you or someone you know has been the victim of a crime, please contact The Dailey Law Firm.  The experienced attorneys of The Dailey Law Firm believe in what is right and will be willing to help.  To schedule an appointment today, call the Michigan office at 248-554-5005, the Illinois office at 312-867-8800, and the Missouri office at 855-529-7469.

Midland man faces assault charge as police allege he hit another man with golf club

ricardocabrerajpg-6807d278186eb3c4BAY CITY, MI — A Midland man is facing an assault charge after police allege he hit another man with a golf club on a Bay County golf course.

The afternoon of Saturday, May 16, police responded to White Birch Golf Course, 360 Ott Road in Monitor Township, after a 36-year-old man called 911. The man told responding Bay County Sheriff’s deputies that he, his wife and their 7-year-old child were golfing, as was a group of males he didn’t know, court records show.

The caller overheard one of the men in the group make a sexual comment about his wife, he told police, according to court records. The caller said he stepped off his golf cart and asked the man what he said. At that point, the man became confrontational and approached the caller, saying he didn’t make any lewd comment, the caller told police.

The man had a golf club in his hand and hit the man, who called police, with it in his upper left thigh, then threatened to hit him again, the caller told deputies.

The man and another member of his group left in a blue Ford, though the caller got the vehicle’s license plate number, court records show.

The caller’s wife confirmed her husband’s account, saying the man’s comment made her very uncomfortable. She said the man approached her husband swinging a club in an aggressive manner, according to court records.

The man’s friends told deputies they were having a bachelor party. They said one of their party said something about the caller’s wife and saw their friend swing a club at the man, but they didn’t know if the club struck him, court records show.

Through their investigation, police came to believe the man in question was 41-year-old Midland resident Ricardo R. Cabrera Jr. Authorities issued a warrant for his arrest on June 22.

Cabrera on Tuesday, July 21, appeared in Bay County District Court for arraignment on one count of assault with a dangerous weapon. The charge is punishable by up to four years’ imprisonment and a $4,000 fine.

District Judge Timothy J. Kelly set Cabrera’s bond at $7,500 cash-surety or 10 percent, which a bonding agency posted on his behalf.

Cabrera is to appear for a preliminary examination before District Judge Mark E. Janer at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 4.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of an assault, please contact The Dailey Law Firm.  The experienced attorneys at The Dailey Law Firm believe in what is right and will be eager to help you find a solution.  To schedule an appointment today, call the Michigan office at 248-554-5005, the Illinois office at 312-867-8800, and the Missouri office at 855-529-7469.

5 arraigned in Mount Clemens home invasion

Mount Clemens — Five men were arraigned Tuesday on charges related to an armed home invasion after they were caught fleeing the scene, according to the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies were called at 6:12 p.m. Saturday to a home on Canfield Street near Gratiot to a report of four masked intruders, officials said.

The suspects allegedly entered the home through an open side door and announced a robbery, armed with knives and handguns. A fifth suspect allegedly waited in the getaway car, officials said.

Clinton Township residents Channor Dior Lewis, 18, Dwayne Cooper Rasberry Jr., 17, Joshua Lee Mills, 18, and Mount Clemens resident Jesse Alex-Ondre Stevens, 19, were charged with armed robbery, first-degree home invasion, and unlawful imprisonment, according to the sheriff’s office.

Alleged getaway driver, Kalamazoo resident Chevas Antwayn Walker Jr., 21, faces armed robbery and first-degree home invasion charges.

In a 911 call placed about five minutes after the attack and released by the sheriff’s office, a woman describes the ordeal.

“I was just robbed,” the unidentified woman said. “Me and the whole house were just robbed by gunpoint.”

The woman told dispatch she did not recognize the intruders.

“They had on masks,” she said. “One had on like a breathing mask.”

The woman also said a baby was in the home during the robbery and that she was taken upstairs by two of the suspects.

Officials said in a press release Wednesday the assailants put a knife to a 38-year-old woman’s throat, forced her upstairs and demanded money. She gave the suspects cash from her wallet before she was pushed face down onto a bed.

Five other victims inside the home were forced to the floor at gunpoint, officials said. One of the other victims spoke during the 911 call, and can be heard asking the group if anyone was injured.

“They had a knife to my mama’s neck,” the unidentified male said. “Is everybody alright? Everybody’s alright.”

The male said the suspects entered through an open side door. B99292120Z_1_20150729105544_000_GQ0ICNBV_1-0

“My mama had the side door open waiting for one of her friends to come in and they ended up coming in with guns,” he said. “They put a knife to her neck.”

The male said he did not see the suspects flee and had no description of their vehicle.

“I didn’t leave the house,” he said. “They made us stay on the ground.”

The male reported several stolen items, including cash, four cellphones, two laptops, a PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. Officials said the thieves also took iPods.

The group was caught as deputies rushed to the scene, officials said.

“Macomb County Sheriff deputies were converging on the residence when one of the deputies located a gray Pontiac Grand Prix traveling on southbound Gratiot from Canfield,” official said in a press release. “The vehicle was occupied by five subjects who matched the description of the suspects from the robbery.”

Deputies initiated a traffic stop at Joy Road and Colchester, less than a mile away, officials said. Inside the vehicle, they were able to see items matching the description of things reported stolen.

The suspects were taken into custody without incident, officials said. Deputies prepared a search warrant and searched the vehicle, recovering all the stolen items as well as a loaded silver and black .38-caliber Ruger revolver, airsoft gun, folding knife and box cutter.

The Ruger handgun was determined to be stolen, officials said.

The suspects were arraigned Tuesday in 41B District Court, officials said. Bonds were set at $100,000 cash or surety and the group is expected back in court Aug. 10.

The suspects currently are held in the Macomb County Jail, official said.

HFournier@detroitnews.com

If you have been the victim of a crime, please contact The Dailey Law Firm.  The experienced attorneys at The Dailey Law Firm believe in what is right.  Email us at askbrian@thelawshow.com or askjustin@thelawshow.com.  To schedule an appointment today, call the Michigan office at 248-554-5005, the Illinois office at 312-867-8800, and the Missouri office at 855-529-7469.  

Family of woman killed in recalled Jeep Liberty to file lawsuit

8418392_GThe family of a pregnant woman killed in a recalled Chrysler Jeep says the company’s fine and buyback are too little, too late.

Kayla White was killed when her gas tank exploded on her recalled Jeep Liberty when it was rear-ended on the Lodge freeway last November.

When there are dangerous vehicles, you have to get them off the road,” said Gerald Thurswell, the White family’s attorney. “But for these vehicles catching on fire she would still be here today.”

Thurswell says plans are still in the works to take legal action against Chrysler for the accident not only claimed the life of the Ferndale woman, but her unborn child.

And although the attorney says nothing can be done to replace these lives, he says Monday’s announcement that Fiat Chrysler must buy back more than half a million vehicles prone to the loss of control, shows the auto maker is being held responsible for its product.

“The source of comfort is that it will hopefully help prevent the deaths of others if people take advantage of the buyback,” Thurswell said.

The consent order also requires the automaker to pay civil penalties of $105 million, submit to to an independent monitor for three years and also offer financial incentives to owners of about one million Jeep Grand Cherokees recalled in 2013.

Kayla was driving a 2003 Jeep Liberty when her fatal accident occurred.

“The death of Kayla White was senseless and needless,” Thurswell said. “Chrysler knew these vehicles were dangerous,”

The family’s attorney says that’s why legal action must be taken the lawsuit will be filed before November.

If you or someone you know has a car that has been recalled or injured in an accident, please contact The Dailey Law Firm.  The experienced attorneys at The Dailey Law Firm believe in what is right and will be eager to help you find a solution.  Email us at askbrian@thelawshow.com or askjustin@thelawshow.com.  To schedule an appointment today, call the Michigan office at 248-554-5005, the Illinois office at 312-867-8800, and the Missouri office at 855-529-7469.

Adam Shigwadja to face bench trial in attack on ex-girlfriend

-68403e362aafb840KALAMAZOO, MI — Adam Shigwadja and his attorney plan to let a Kalamazoo judge decide at a bench trial whether he is guilty or not guilty of assaulting his ex-girlfriend last year and setting her bedroom on fire.

Shigwadja, 19, is charged as a second-time habitual offender with assault with intent to commit murder, first-degree home invasion and second-degree arson in connection with a Sept. 15 fire at the Prospect Street home 17-year-old Sophia Putney-Wilcox shared with her mother and brother.

Shigwadja is accused of breaking into the house, cutting Putney-Wilcox with a knife and then using gasoline to set her bedroom on fire.

According to Kalamazoo County Circuit Court documents, a bench trial for Shigwadja is scheduled to begin Tuesday before Judge Pamela L. Lightvoet, although he and his attorney have until Tuesday morning to decide if Shigwadja will waive a jury trial and proceed with a bench trial.

Shigwadja was ordered to stand trial in November following a probable-cause hearing in district court. A little more than a month later, in January, Lightvoet ordered that Shigwadja undergo evaluations at the Michigan Center for Forensic Psychiatry in Lansing to determine if he was competent to stand trial, and whether he was criminally responsible or legally insane at the time that he is alleged to have assaulted Putney-Wilcox.

In February, according to court documents, a doctor at the forensic center found that Shigwadja was competent to stand trial and not legally insane at the time of the alleged offense.

However, Shigwadja’s attorney, Alan Koenig, filed a notice on April 29 of his intent to present an insanity defense at Shigwadja’s trial. And in June, he filed a motion seeking funds for an independent examination by another doctor to get a second opinion on whether Shigwadja was legally insane.

The doctor, Stephen Miller, is included on a list of proposed witnesses that Koenig plans to call at Shigwadja’s trial. In court documents in June, Koenig said he “may call Miller on the issue of insanity and/or as a general expert in the field of psychology.”

Koenig said Tuesday that while it is something he had considered, he now does not plan on presenting an insanity defense at Shigwadja’s trial.

At the probable-cause hearing in November, Putney-Wilcox testified that she and Shigwadja met when she was a freshman in high school and then dated on and off for the next three years. Their relationship was tumultuous, she said then, and Shigwadja made threats in the past to kill her.

Putney-Wilcox testified that despite the threats and a judge’s order in 2013 that Shigwadja have no contact with her, she and Shigwadja saw each other anyway, including on Sept. 11 and Sept. 13, just a few days before the Sept. 15 incident at her home in Kalamazoo.

She testified that in the Sept. 15 incident, Shigwadja took her by surprise in her bedroom after she arrived home after being out with a friend. She testified Shigwadja was armed with a knife, her room smelled like gasoline and that when she asked Shigwadja if he was going to kill her, he responded, “Yeah.”

Shigwadja later set fire to the room and eventually fled after Putney-Wilcox’s brother came into the room and struck him with a baseball bat. During the confrontation, Putney-Wilcox’s brother accidentally struck her in the head with the bat.

Putney-Wilcox was hospitalized and underwent surgery for the injury to her head after the incident. At the court hearing in November, she testified that the blow from the baseball bat knocked her unconscious and she does not remember much from the night after getting struck.

Prosecutors, according to court documents, plan to present evidence at Shigwadja’s trial of previous acts of domestic violence, including a February 2013 incident during which they say Shigwadja forced his way into Putney-Wilcox’s bedroom, threatened to kill her and held a knife to her throat and stomach.

Lightvoet, meanwhile, is scheduled to hear testimony in Shigwadja’s trial on Tuesday and Wednesday. The trial is then scheduled to continue on Aug. 12 and Aug. 13, according to court documents.

Rex Hall Jr. is a public safety reporter for the Kalamazoo Gazette.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of an assault, please contact The Dailey Law Firm.  The experienced attorneys at The Dailey Law Firm believe in what is right and will be eager to help you find a solution.  To schedule an appointment today, call the Michigan office at 248-554-5005, the Illinois office at 312-867-8800, and the Missouri office at 855-529-7469

Fiat Chrysler forced into biggest vehicle buyback ever

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Monday it imposed the largest vehicle buyback program in its history on Fiat Chrysler Automobiles because the automaker failed to come up with an adequate remedy to fix nearly 200,000 pickup trucks and SUVs it recalled in 2013.

The buyback program is one component of a 37-page consent order that also includes the largest ever civil penalty imposed by the agency.

The $105 million in civil penalties and the buyback program are the outcome of NHTSA’s investigation into FCA’s lax repair and recall completion rates for 23 separate recalls covering more than 11 million vehicles. It applies mostly to Ram trucks and Dodge SUVs made between 2008 and 2012 that were part of three separate recalls announced in 2013.

There was confusion Monday over the number of buybacks the automaker would be forced to offer. FCA issued recalled notices for nearly 580,000 Ram pickups and Ram SUVs in 2013. NHTSA initially said the automaker must offer to buy back more than 500,000 vehicles.

“This order requires FCA to offer buybacks for more than half a million vehicles prone to dangerous loss of control,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said. “FCA has failed to offer an effective remedy of those vehicles,” Rosekind said.

Later, Rosekind said the automaker must only offer buybacks to vehicles that have not yet been fixed and the automaker said it has fixed more than 280,000 of them.

Glenn Bradley, of Weatherford, Texas, said he called his dealer Monday to ask about his 2012 Ram 2500 and the dealer had no idea what he was talking about.

FCA has not said how much the buyback program could cost the automaker. However, the automaker said Monday that the scope of the buyback program is less than the number suggested by NHTSA.

“As of this date, repairs have been completed on well over 60% of the subject vehicles, leaving less than two hundred thousand eligible vehicles,” the automaker said in a statement.

Nevertheless, the automaker said it will offer to repurchase the trucks and SUVs that have not yet been fixed for a price equal to the original purchase price minus a reasonable allowance for depreciation plus ten percent.

FCA also emphasized that it is allowed to resell the vehicles it repurchases after they are repaired.

The consent order also requires the automaker to pay civil penalties of $105 million, submit to to an independent monitor for three years and also offer financial incentives to owners of about 1 million Jeep Grand Cherokees recalled in 2013.

The agreement calls for FCA to submit a list of three names within 60 days. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gets to choose from among the three.

Once in place, the monitor will see if Fiat Chrysler lives up to its responsibilities under the consent order to improve safety in its vehicles. If the monitor determines Fiat Chrysler isn’t complying, NHTSA will be notified and sanctions or penalties are sure to follow. The monitor is also supposed to prepare a report 60 days before the order ends.

“From our vantage point, punishment is one aspect of what we do, but rehabilitation is what we hope lives on,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “One of the best ways…to ensure that they get it right is to have some type of ongoing dialogue or oversight.”

Fiat Chrysler acknowledged Sunday that some of its recall processes and procedures have fallen short.

“We also accept the resulting consequences with renewed resolve to improve our handling of recalls and re-establish the trust our customers place in us,” the company said in a statement. “We are intent on rebuilding our relationship with NHTSA and we embrace the role of public safety advocate.”

NHTSA said the investigation revealed that FCA, in a variety of recalls, failed adequately to inform NHTSA about vehicle safety issues, failed to develop an adequate way to fix the vehicles or produce the parts necessary to repair them and failed to adequately inform dealers about safety recalls.

“Fiat Chrysler must find a better way to reach customers and to get the vehicles repaired,” Foxx said. “Merely identifying safety issues is not enough.”

The buyback program hits the automaker’s top selling vehicle — Ram pickups — at a time when competition in the pickup segment is tougher than ever. The pickups have defective steering parts that can cause drivers to lose control.

Rosekind said the agency decided against requiring a buyback program for the Jeep Grand Cherokees that are part of a recall for 1.54 million Jeep SUVs because, in that case, there is an available remedy.

Jeep Grand Cherokees from model years 1993 to 1998 and Jeep Libertys from 2002 to 2007 have rear-mounted fuel tanks that NHTSA says are more prone too fiery rear-end collisions than SUVs made by other automakers. NHTSA has approved the installation of a trailer hitch to provide additional protection in rear end crashes for those vehicles.

“There is a very clear line where the buybacks were focused on the vehicles where there was no option,” Rosekind said. “There was not an available remedy.”

The buy back program applies to the following vehicles if they have not yet been repaired:

278,229 vehicles recalled on February 6, 2013 because of a defect that may cause the axle to lock including the:

  • 2009 model year Chrysler Aspen
  • 2009 model year Dodge Durango
  • 2009-2012 model years Dodge Ram 1500
  • 2009-2011 model years Dodge Dakota

36,710 vehicles recalled on November 6, 2013 because of a defect that may cause the driver to lose steering power and crash:

  • 2008-2012 model years Dodge Ram 4500
  • 2008-2012 model years Dodge Ram 5500

265,057 vehicles recalled on November 6, 2013, to repair and replace steering linkages that may cause the driver to lose steering power and crash:

  • 2008 model year Dodge Ram 1500
  • 2008-2012 model years Dodge Ram 2500
  • 2008-2012 model years Dodge Ram 3500

 

If you or someone you know has a car that has been recalled, please contact The Dailey Law Firm.  The experienced attorneys at The Dailey Law Firm believe in what is right and will be eager to help you find a solution.  Email us at askbrian@thelawshow.com or askjustin@thelawshow.com.  To schedule an appointment today, call the Michigan office at 248-554-5005, the Illinois office at 312-867-8800, and the Missouri office at 855-529-7469.  

Masked Royal Oak man holds razor knife to ex’s throat, is stabbed by her new boyfriend, police say

bbe2e84844d094c2b01677042df65b93A Royal Oak man is suspected of lying in wait at the house of his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend where police say he emerged from a closet and held a razor knife to her throat before he was stabbed and left in critical condition.  The attack happened just before 3 a.m. Monday in the 1000 block of East Fourth Street after the woman, her boyfriend and another man arrived home together, police said.  The woman’s boyfriend noticed his back door had been forced open and saw zip ties and duct tape set up in the kitchen, according to officers.

“The female victim’s ex-boyfriend suddenly emerged from a nearby closet and grabbed the female victim,” Royal Oak Police Lt. Dave Clemens said in a statement. “He held a razor knife to her throat and had a hatchet in the other hand.”

Wearing a mask, hooded sweatshirt and rubber gloves, the suspect, 21, was not immediately recognized by the others, police reported.

“When the victim began to fight with the suspect, the victim’s boyfriend — who had armed himself with a knife — stabbed the suspect,” Clemens said.

A man who is a friend of the woman and her boyfriend called 911 on his cellphone shortly before the suspect was stabbed.  Police said they could hear the boyfriend and his male friend struggling with the suspect on the phone call.

Both men were able to subdue the suspect before police arrived.

Clemens said the suspect suffered severe injuries and the Royal Oak Fire Department took him to William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak where he remains in critical condition and is under police guard.  The woman was treated at the scene for minor injuries to her hand and neck and did not require hospitalization, police added.

She told police the suspect had never been violent before and police said he has no known criminal history.  The suspect and the woman had a short dating relationship that ended several months ago, police said.

Clemens wouldn’t comment on whether the suspect lived nearby the house where the attack happened, but acknowledged the suspect and the current boyfriend were known to each other.

“They knew each other, but not well,” he said.

Police said the suspect faces possible felony charges of unlawful imprisonment, home invasion and felonious assault.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of an assault, please contact The Dailey Law Firm.  The experienced attorneys at The Dailey Law Firm believe in what is right and will be eager to help you find a solution.  To schedule an appointment today, call the Michigan office at 248-554-5005, the Illinois office at 312-867-8800, and the Missouri office at 855-529-7469.  

Sole survivor in deadly DWI crash, teen confronts man who killed her family

Her family – mother, father and three siblings – were dead, killed by a drunken driver speeding the wrong way on a Harris County freeway whose pickup slammed into their car, turning it into a fireball.
For months she lay in a coma in a local hospital with what the doctors said was a partial internal decapitation. They thought she wouldn’t make it. When she woke up, they told her she would never walk again.

But on Tuesday, almost nine months after the tragic crash, Stephanie Guzman struggled into a white hooded sweatshirt in a cold Houston courtroom and, from her wheelchair, confronted the man who had just pleaded guilty to killing her family.

“My legs were broken, I was burned, I was dead,” Guzman told a room full of supporters, including Sheriff Adrian Garcia and several deputies who had worked on the case. “They thought I was going to die. The doctors were wrong.”

Across the courtroom, in handcuffs and a white collared shirt, Efraim Carmona sat quietly as the 16-year-old spoke. Earlier in the day, he had entered a plea of guilty to five counts of intoxication manslaughter in an agreement that would send him to prison for 50 years.920x920

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Signs and sensors have helped to reduce the number of fatalities caused by wrong-way traffic, according to the Harris County Toll Road Authority. Efforts to make highways safer follow surge in wrong-way wrecks Stephanie Guzman, 15, was still in the hospital Thursday while her family’s funeral was held in Houston. For a second time, funeral marks loss of family in senseless
“My family is gone,” Guzman told him. “I know your family is sad, but you’re going to be here.”

Carmona wrote a letter to the Houston girl and her family, telling her he realizes now that he is an alcoholic who thought he had his condition under control because he had managed to hold down a job and pay his bills.

“If I could trade my life to bring your family back I would,” he wrote. “I hope you can take this letter as a lifetime of ‘I’m sorrys.’?”

Head-on horror

Carmona was drunk on June 29 when he drove onto the Sam Houston Tollway, entering an exit ramp near Humble the wrong way. Carmona’s truck collided head-on with the Guzman family’s pickup. His blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.23 percent, or almost three times the legal limit, at the time he was arrested, investigators said.

The crash killed Stephanie’s father, Valentin Guzman, 41; her mother, 40-year-old Elvira Guzman Santoyo; sisters Ani and Patricia, 12 and 11; and her 3-year-old brother, Valentin Jr.

Stephanie, then 15, was the only one to survive. She suffered a tear in her spinal column, a partial internal decapitation, the same kind of injury that killed most of her family.

She still bears scars from the crash, some under her right eye and others on her chin. On the stand, she first asked that her face not be photographed, then changed her mind after seeing the outpouring of support, later smiling easily in court and when talking to reporters.

“I’m going to be free,” she told reporters. “I know I’m going to have a good future. I know it’s going to take time, but I’m going to make it.”

Assistant District Attorney Alison Baimbridge called Guzman “our miracle.” The Harris County prosecutor said Guzman’s daily physical therapy has enabled her to walk about 70 feet with a walker.

“In her mind, she’ll be able to do everything she could do before,” Baimbridge said. “We’ve been told she’ll need assistance walking for the rest of her life. But you saw her spirit, so the sky’s the limit.”

Sentences stacked

A panel of prospective jurors was heading to state District Judge Susan Brown’s courtroom to begin jury selection in Carmona’s trial when he decided to take the plea deal that means he will have to spend at least 25 years behind bars before becoming eligible for parole.

The mechanics behind the plea bargain mean that he agreed to 10 years in jail for each of the five intoxication manslaughter charges, which are stacked. As a practical matter, Carmona has to serve half of each sentence before he is parole eligible. After he is granted parole on the first one, he will begin serving the second 10-year sentence, a process that will continue until he serves out his sentence for each charge.

The result is that he is likely to serve the lion’s share of the half-century sentence.

In court during the plea, his lawyer made it clear that Carmona was aware of strong evidence in his defense.

“It was his choice,” said David Bires. “I don’t force people to do what I want to them to do; I just make them aware of what their choices are.”

‘I’m still the same girl’

With her thick black hair cut to mask a long scar stretching across her head above her right ear, Guzman spoke for about 20 minutes against drunken driving, pledging to make herself whole and describing the pain she’s endured, physically and emotionally.

“I’m here because I lost my whole family,” she said. “No matter what happened to me, I’m still happy. I’m still the same girl.”

At times she seemed to be speaking to Carmona, who did not respond, but mostly she spoke about him. She said it was God’s place to pass judgment, not hers.

“I’m not going to judge him,” she said of the defendant. “But I want him to know that my family is gone, but I’m going to grow up happy.”

Several deputies who worked on the accident reconstruction and other facets of the case were in court for the sentencing, and shook Guzman’s hand or patted her back. The sheriff, who said he visited Guzman in the hospital after the wreck, pinned a souvenir badge on her sweatshirt just before she spoke.

“You are just a phenomenal, phenomenal young lady,” Garcia told her. “Your challenges and your family’s story has been something we’ve used to educate other people about drunk driving. We’re very proud of you.”

Elvira Guzman’s brother, Enrique Santoyo, 30, also gave a victim impact statement supporting his niece.

“We’re all here for Stephanie,” he said. “Now that my sister and my brother-in-law are no longer here, we’re going to give her all the love she needs.”

If you or someone you know has been the victim of a automobile accident, please contact The Dailey Law Firm.  The experienced attorneys at The Dailey Law Firm believe in what is right.  To schedule an appointment today, call the Michigan office at 248-554-5005, the Illinois office at 312-867-8800, and the Missouri office at 855-529-7469.  Or visit MyCrash.org.