Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan on October 28, 2003 · 70
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Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan · 70

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Tuesday, October 28, 2003
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70
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6B TUESDAY, OCT. 28, 2003 LOCAL NEWS DETROIT FREE PRESS WWW.FREEP.GOSt Stories clash about missing fcurters Murder trial hears bar owner contradict witness By HUGH McDIARMID JR. FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER I . STANDISH - It was a placid night in the bar where two missing hunters were last seen alive in 1985, the bar's former owner testified Monday in the murder trial of two brothers. 1 : - The testimony, from Warren Linker, contradicts the contention othe prosecutor's star witness, Barbara Boudro. She told jurors last week that the hunters, David Tyll and Brian- Ognjan, were drunk and harassing women.' ' ' " ; Boudro said the defendants, Raymond and Donald Duvall, were in the bar glaring at the hunters and creating a tense situ- 'ation that later exploded in violence when she witnessed the Du- iValls beat the hunters to death about a mile down the road. The Duvalls are each charged with first-degree murder. But Linker, testifying for the defense, said he does not recall Boudro or the Duvalls being at Linker's Lounge near Mio that evening. He said he spoke with Tyll and Ognjan after they made an inappropriate remark to a waitress. After that, they were quiet and kept to themselves, leaving within two hours, he said. Linker said he generally kept an eye out for trouble brewing in , the rural tavern, but agreed with state prosecutor Donna Pender-gast that he might not have noticed whether Boudro or the Du- . vails were there that night. Defense lawyers also tried to plant doubt in jurors' minds with the testimony of Genevieve Yak-lin. Yaklin, a hunter who has participated in 49 consecutive deer seasons, said she saw the missing hunters with a third man on the weekend they disappeared. Months later, she said, she recognized a photograph in a newspaper of the third man, Joel Paul Hanna, who was a suspect in the shooting death of Otsego County Sheriff's Deputy Carl Darling Jr. in 1986. Hanna was shot and killed in Georgia after he tried to attack two law enforcement officials with a pitchfork. Authorities said Darling had picked up Hanna who was hitchhiking. Yaklin's testimony raised the possibility that Hanna may have had something to do with the hunters' disappearance. But Yaklin conceded under cross-examination that she failed to identify the hunters' pictures when detectives questioned her in 1988. The defense witnesses came af- I i MA Brothers Donald, left, and Raymond Duvall are accused in the 1985 disappearance of David Tyll and Brian Ognjan. ter four days of testimony from prosecution witnesses that ended Monday morning. Defense lawyers Seymour Schwartz and Scott Williams immediately moved to dismiss the charges, arguing that Pendergast had failed to prove the hunters were even dead, much less that their clients had killed them. Schwartz noted that dozens of searches by divers, planes, heli copters, backhoes, cadaver dogs and other means had failed to turn up any evidence of the men's bodies. "There Is rumor and innuendo, and that's all there is," Schwartz said. Judge Ronald Bergeron of the 23rd Circuit Court denied the motion. In a bizarre finale to Monday's testimony, defense lawyers called to the stand a man who claimed that three other brothers, unrelated to the Duvalls, told him they had killed the hunters. They had shown him the hunters' clothes and truck, he said. Pendergast attacked his credibility by reciting a nine-page statement the witness, Daniel Dutton, had provided to police. In that document, he claimed to be a recovered amnesiac and to have knowledge of more than 100 murders, including high-profile cases like the Oakland County child kill ings of the 1970s, and the abdUC; tion and killing of Warren 10-ye.ar: old Deanna Seifert in 1992. Dutton said Tyll and Ognjan were killed with an ax in front ofa busy Grayling bar, then dumped in the nearby Au Sable Rivari where "their tongues were d'&? pressed until their bodies filled with water. I know this is not a common way to dispose of bodies, because it is foolish," Dutton wrote in the statement. . i Under cross-examination Mon day, he said all the killers who had confessed to him had been trained by serial killer Leslie Allen Williams, and conceded that "it seems like a lot." Defense lawyers are expected to conclude their case today, and jurors could begin deliberating as early as this afternoon. . Contact HUGH McDIARMID JR. at 248-351-3295 or mcdiarmidjrfreepress.com. Oakland school board demotes its interim leader Panel says district needs an outsider to take control now By TERESA MASK FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER The man the Oakland Intermediate School District chose to lead it through its most tumultuous time was demoted Monday, and board members are expected to begin interviews today for his replacement. The board voted unanimously to return Interim Superintendent Dan Austin to his previous role as deputy superintendent, saying the organization needed an outsider at the helm. "Dan has done a yeoman's job under the circumstances," said board member Pan Godchaux. "But I believe the whole organizations tainted from whatever happened here." Those who attended Monday's packed special board meeting responded with a loud chorus of boos. Some staff members sobbed. Austin's role in the district Dan Austin was named interim superintendent Feb. 11. Among his was restoring credibility to the district. grew Jan. 6, when board members asked him to report directly to them, instead of to James Redmond, the superintendent they fired Jan. 31. Redmond was fired amid allegations he paid secret buyouts to get employees to leave and steered contracts to companies tied to him. Redmond's firing came shortly after a board-ordered investiga tion raised questions about district operations, including the way it used special education money to help fund its new ,$30-million ad; ministration building in Waters ford and a technology project. The district now is being investigated by the state Attorney Gen eral's Office. ' 4 Austin was named interim superintendent Feb. 11. Among his primary responsibilities was restoring credibility to the district. Godchaux said it was unfair to expect Austin to turn around the organization on his own. "Dan needs the support of having some fresh eyes," said Godchaux, who joined the school board three weeks ago. Austin did not comment about his demotion during Monday's open meeting. "I had no previous knowledge of this," he said during a recess. "I did agree with one point and that's 'Let's move this organization forward.' " Sparked by concerns from staff members, the board met in closed session Thursday to discuss Austin's position. . ;- District employees Had reported that administrators were not turning over documents as required by the Freedom of Information Act. State Rep. Ruth Johnson, R-Holly, and the Detroit Free Press have filed numerous requests for information in the last sue months. It was not clear'what documents may havejhee omitted. Attorney Kari Costanza, whom the board chose Monday to !start handling all Freedom of Information Act requests for the district, said she would review documents to determine what might not have been supplied to Johnson and the Free Press. "We need to open the books in this organization," said board member George Ehlert. Austin is the husband of Randi Austin, vice president for human resources of the Detroit Newspapers, the company that oversees the business operations for the Free Press and the Detroit News. At times, those in the audience interrupted with comments that the three board members who served under Redmond's tenure should resign. Godchaux and Ehlert,' the newest members of the board, wouldn't comment on whether they thought that was a good idea. They only would say they have brought a fresh look to the board. Though he said he was deeply disturbed with how the news "was communicated to him, Austin said he won't second-guess the board's Communities take water action In the suburbs, leaders consider alternative to Detroit department By MARY OWEN andALEXACAPELOTO free press staff writers Leaders in Macomb and Wayne county communities angered by double-digit water rate increases have taken the first step in breaking away from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. At a meeting last week, officials from Warren, St. Clair Shores and Grosse Pointe Shores asked leaders from six other cities and Macomb County to consider alternatives to the Detroit system. Each city has until Dec. 17 to decide whether it wants to help pay for a feasibility study of a separate suburban system that could include construction of a water-treatment plant in St. Clair j3hores. The water plant would be financed by bonds. Early projections put the price at about $250 "million, plus annual operating cost's. , Suburban officials said the prospect of stabilized water rates and direct control is enough to convince residents to pay for the project, even in the current anti- tax environment. "I think all the communities are eager to determine their own destiny for purchasing water," said Warren City Attorney George Constance. "It's pretty exciting to have something like this be within reach." The six other cities considering participation are Center Line, Eastpointe, Fraser, Grosse Pointe Woods, Harper Woods and Rose-ville. The Detroit water system supplies about 125 communities in eight counties. Grosse Pointe Shores Councilman Brian Hunt said it makes sense to look at alternatives. "Right now, we've got taxation without representation," Hunt said. "We have a water system where the suburbs have very little say over the rates that are charged and the way the system is run." Officials in other communities said that they are willing to explore but not yet endorse a separate water authority. "I'm miles away from committing because we just don't have enough information to make any long-term decisions," Eastpointe Mayor Jim Kelly said. A study would look at three options: building a new water treatment plant; adding to existing plants in Mt. Clemens or Grosse Pointe Farms, or tying into Highland Park's plant. The study also will look at sewage-treatment options. Suburban customers have been outraged in recent years by water rate increases. Their dissatisfaction grew with reports that Detroit had $59 million in delinquent bills from city residents and businesses. In September, Warren and Oakland County officials said their suspicions were confirmed when a consulting firm determined that since 2000, Oakland County customers had been overcharged $13 million, and Warren was overcharged $1.75 million. George Ellenwood, a spokesman for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, said the communities have multiyear contracts. He said cities looking to break their contracts could negotiate terms for separation, but that is not a simple process. "Leaving a system is not something that happens overnight," Ellenwood said. "Realistically, you're looking at a minimum of five years after the conscious decision is made before they can be independent." Contact MARY OWEN at 586-469-1827 orowenfreepress.com and ALEXA CAPELOTO at 586-469-4935 or capelotofreepress.com. For stories that offer solutions and hope, look for the Children First handprint. We're proud of these stories, plus many more initiatives for children: Yak's Corner, our award winning 8 page tabloid section for kids Summer Dreams, an annual campaign that funds children's summer activities Gift of Reading Newspapers in Education, the nation's best program for providing quality classroom materials to elementary, middle and high school students Join the crusade to improve the uves of Michigan's children with a subscription to the free press. call 80o-395-33oo www.freep.com decision. He said he will remain committed to the district and will move forward the same way he did when he was a football player. "You buckle your chin straps and get back into the game," he said. Ehlert said the board hopes to hire a new interim superintendent by the end of the week. Contact TERESA MASK at 248-351-'r 3691 or maskfreepress.com. Staff writers Lori Higgins and L.L. Braiser -contributed to this report. f mm AVOID PROBATE DELAYS... SET UP A REVOCABLE LIVING TRUST TODAY Probate is legal process of administering a deceased person's estate. The -Probate court validates the will, catalogs the deceased belongings, hiring -'. appraisers, distributing property, paying debts and taxes and transferring titles. " The above probate process is generally a hassle and could cost 5 percent to 10 percent of estate's value. Property remains in limbo while In probate for ;, the duration of the probate process that can last months to years. 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