Home — Murder, “cold” cases, and mayhem

This website is intended to deal with murder, brutality, corruption and hatred—all falling under what we call acts of injustice.  We tell the stories of open and unsolved homicides–what are called “cold” cases.  We also memorialize those whose lives have been taken from them in hope that somebody will come forward to tell the truth. So far our efforts center on Michigan.

David B. Schock, Ph.D.

David B. Schock, Ph.D.

“Somebody knows somethin’.  Somebody ALWAYS knows somethin’.”

That’s the way Jim Fairbanks put it when we made our first film, Who Killed Janet Chandler?  Detective Fairbanks (retired) was the lead investigator on the law enforcement team in 1979.  What he had to say then still applies today.  For nearly every unsolved homicide there is somebody out there who could solve it if she or he would come forward and make a contact.

To call an unsolved homicide a “cold” case is chilling in its own right.  Yes, these unsolved cases grow “cold” because there are no new leads; they more or less drop off the social and cultural radar.  But they are NEVER “cold” to the family members and friends, they are never forgotten or out of mind.  And there is always the hope that justice, however delayed, will be served.

We invite you to visit the We Remember part of this site, a place where families and friends of those whose murders remain unsolved contact us and can help to post details of the victims’ lives and the resultant investigations.

We also invite your view of what we are calling a Primary Documentary Investigation as we tell the story of the murder of Mina Dekker.

Our hope in all the cases we chronicle is that somebody who knows something will say something.

From David — A Weblog of investigation:

February 24, 2015 — AJ Marshall murder trial set for June 1; but first comes a perjury trial April 20

Accursed murderer Arelias Marshall is set to stand trial for the 1990 murder of Christopher Joel Battaglia.You can read about the murder trial date here in Barton Deiter’s account. The trial date, set yesterday for June 1, will be preceded by his trial for perjury in the offense. That date is set for April 20.

There is the possibility that if he’s convicted of the perjury charge–a life offense in Michigan in a case like this–Marshall might plead to the murder–if he indeed is guilty. His demeanor at his preliminary hearing argued against cooperation; he postured, looked heavenward, smirked at his brother and others testifying against him. But the future is unknowable.

And by coincidence, the trial of the Jones brothers (Matthew and Paul) for the murder of Shannon Marie Siders is also set to begin April 20. My intention was to be at all the events; I don’t know what I will do.

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February 21, 2015 — Judge rules against admission of other “bad acts” in Siders trial

27th Circuit Court Chief Judge Anthony A. Monton ruled against the prosecution’s request for admission of other acts allegedly committed by accused murderers Matthew (Skip) and Paul Jones. They are charged in the 1989 murder of Shannon Marie Siders. The prosecution asked the court to allow testimony of others who have suffered at the hands of the Jones brothers. According to Judge Monton’s ruling, that would have come in under provision 404(b) “to introduce into evidence other crimes of acts of misconduct by the Jones brothers which occurred both before and after the murder of Siders.”

The judge offered his legal reasoning, taking up most of a single-spaced page. I’d be happy to share it with you, but he recaps all his logic with this:

Simply put, the proffered acts of misconduct and the charged offense of premeditated murder and not sufficiently similar to support an inference they that are a manifestation of a common plan, scheme or system. The circumstances surrounding these acts are too attenuated to conclude that they fit within the scope of an allowable purpose under MRE 404(b) to admit this evidence.

At best, any relevance between the other acts of misconduct and a proper purpose under MRS 404(b) is marginal, but the potential for unfair prejudice is great. The introduction of this evidence creates significant risk that jury may convict the defendant on an improper basis, i.e., bad character, instead of evidence proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant[s] committed first degree murder.

The prosecution could appeal that decision. I don’t know yet whether it has done so.

The next scheduled hearing will be the final pretrial on April 6, 2015 at 2 p.m. The trial is scheduled to begin April 20.

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February 18 , 2015 — Trial for Malcolm Jeffries adjourned

Malcolm Xavier Jeffries was scheduled for trial on perjury March 9 in 17th Circuit Court. That trial has been adjourned pending a competency determination. Judge Mark Trusock granted the motion made by defense attorney Dennis Carlson to grant Jeffries a forensic examination. Through his attorney Jeffries denies any knowledge of or involvement in the murder of Christopher Joel Battaglia, June 11, 1990. One witness, Acey Marshall–the brother of Aurelias J. Marshall, the man who is accused of murdering Joel–did put him at the scene.

It may take three months or so for that psychological testing.

The trial for Aurelias J. Marshall may be as soon as late April or early May.

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February 7, 2015 — A $40K reward in the murder of Douglas Ryan Pollock, Jr.

The hunt for the killers of Douglas Ryan Pollock, Jr., is particularly maddening. You can read our story here of the crime. Police early on identified his alleged murderers,brothers Eric Santiago and Juan Reyes, had warrants for their arrests, and were on their way to serve them. When the police arrived the brothers had flitted to Mexico; there was no effective way to haul them back. The killing was particularly senseless and brutal.

Tonight Fox 17 will carry a story at 10 p.m. on West Michigan’s Most Wanted of the renewed efforts by the FBI to nab the accused killers. As a part of that effort the reward has been raised from $3,000 to $40,000, $20,000 for each brother.

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January 26, 2015 — Malcolm Xavier Jeffries is scheduled for trial on perjury

Malcolm Xavier Jeffries is one of the four arrested on charges of perjury relating to the 1990 beating death of Christopher Joel Battaglia. Perjury in a felony murder case is potentially a life offense in a Michigan prison. Even more daunting, he faces up to twice the penalty because he is a habitual fourth offender. He was in prison from March 20, 1995 to October 26, 2013 for unlawful driving away of an automobile, and two counts of unarmed robbery. In the late 1980’s he spent a year in prison for receiving stolen property. So, it seems if he’s convicted, he may face two life sentences.

A perjury conviction was used handily in 1982 to keep Lamont Marshall (no relation to Joel’s alleged murderer, Aurelias J. Marshall) out of murderous circulation until he was convicted in the attempted murderi n 1980 of Joanne Eggleston. That conviction in 1991 kept him in prison, but with the possibility of parole. He was subsequently convicted in 2008 of the murder of Laurel Jean Ellis in 1975, and was sentenced to life without parole. (If you want to know more you can read the mLive story about it here.)

Mr. Jeffries is set for trial on perjury March 9 at 8:30 a.m. before the Honorable Mark A. Trusock, 17th Circuit Court, courtroom 11B. Court records indicate that there had been a plea on the table for Mr. Jeffries, but he didn’t take it. (You can read a WZZM story about that deal here.) That doesn’t necessarily mean that he might not still take it if the offer continues, but that I don’t know. Also unknowable for us now is whether Mr. Jeffries might face further charges in the murder. Acey Marshall, Aurelias Marshall’s brother, not only testified last week that he watched his brother assault Joel Battaglia, but that Mr Jeffries also took part, especially kicking the victim when he was down. He also described Quitin T. “ManHowell” Howell, Sr., at the scene, but said Howell played no part in the assault. (Howell was only 41 when he died in Grand Rapids, Oct. 7, 2012. That means he would have been 18 years old at the time of Joel’s death.) Another eye witness to the crime, Sheila Marie Reed, who lived directly across the street, testified that she saw only Aurelias Marshall, whom she recognized as a coworker, beat Battaglia while someone else waited in a car near by. By his own admission, Acey Marshall came to pick up his brother Aurelius after being summoned by a phone call. He said he both waited in the car and stood outside it to watch his brother and Mr. Jeffries beat Battaglia.

For now, according to Assistant Prosecutor Kellee Koncki, the only comment is this: “it is an ongoing investigation.”

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