People v. Tyson

CourtCourt of Appeal of Michigan (US)
PartiesPEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. CRAIG LAQUNITZ TYSON, also known as CRAIG LAQUINTZ TYSON, Defendant-Appellant.
Docket Number352536
Decision Date11 August 2022


Wayne Circuit Court LC No. 19-004132-01-FC

Before: Sawyer, P.J., and Shapiro and Redford, JJ.


Defendant appeals as of right his convictions by a jury as a fourth-offense habitual offender, MCL 769.12(1)(a), of manslaughter, MCL 750.321, unlawful driving away a motor vehicle, MCL 750.413, felon in possession of a firearm (felon-in-possession), MCL 750.224f, and second offense possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony (felony-firearm), MCL 750.227b. The trial court sentenced defendant as a fourth-offense habitual offender, MCL 769.12 to 25 to 50 years' imprisonment for manslaughter, 1 to 5 years' imprisonment for unlawful driving away a motor vehicle, 1 to 5 years' imprisonment for felon-in-possession, and 5 years' imprisonment for second offense felony-firearm. The trial court gave defendant 246 days' credit for time served in jail. The trial court ordered defendant to serve his felony-firearm conviction consecutively to his other convictions. We affirm defendant's convictions and sentence.


On March 1, 2019, in a house located at 14231 Strathmore Detroit, Michigan, defendant and his cousin, Raymond Love sat on a couch arguing until the two stood up from the couch, pushed off of each other, defendant produced a handgun from his pocket and shot Love in the chest. Love exclaimed, "For real," then rushed at defendant and put his hands on the gun which fired again at point-blank range into Love's chest. Defendant fled in a company vehicle parked at the house by a guest, Anthony Crawford, who witnessed the altercation and the first gunshot. Crawford then quickly exited the house but heard the second shot. Love later died from the gunshot wounds to his chest.

The district court conducted a preliminary examination at which Crawford testified that he saw defendant pull a gun out of his pocket and the weapon discharged causing a round, red hole that oozed out blood from the center of Love's chest. Love stated, "For real?" Crawford then backed away toward the door. As he made it to the door, he saw Love rush defendant and both of them had their hands on the gun struggling. Then Crawford heard a second shot as he tried to exit the door. Once outside, Crawford ran a couple of houses down the street, stopped, and stood until he heard his work truck start. That prompted him to walk to check on the truck, which he saw pull out and proceed down Strathmore. Only Crawford had permission from the truck's owner to drive that truck. The district court found that the evidence established probable cause that crimes were committed and that defendant committed the charged offenses. The court bound defendant over for trial.

At trial, Crawford testified that, on March 1, 2019, he went to a two-story house located at 14231 Strathmore in Detroit, where his daughter, Tara, and Love resided. When he arrived, he entered the house and heard some loud bickering. He saw Love and defendant sitting on a couch bickering loudly. Love and defendant raised their voices and both suddenly jumped up and faced each other. Love went toward defendant and defendant pushed him back toward the end of the couch. Crawford testified that he saw defendant take a black gun out of his pocket and fire it at Love. Crawford saw Love look down at his chest and heard him say, "For real." Crawford explained that he observed the middle of Love's chest and first saw a hole, then around the hole it started to get red. Then Love rushed defendant. Love and defendant went down on the floor between the coffee table and couch and wrestled for the gun. Love had his hand on defendant's hand that held the gun. While Crawford made his way to the door, he heard a second gunshot. Crawford left the house and ran to a vacant lot. Soon after, he saw the company Dodge Ram pickup, fitted with a snowplow that he used for work, drive off down the street. Crawford explained that he had permission from the owner to drive the truck and no one else had permission to do so. Crawford did not know who drove off in the pickup. Crawford then went to Love's Ford F-150 pickup, retrieved his phone from the truck and called 911. He stayed at the location.

Crawford admitted that he had not been truthful to the police when he gave his first statement. He explained that he did not tell the police he went inside the house because he feared the probation repercussions for having contact with the police. He affirmed that he later told the truth to other police officers at a police station.

Dr. Milad Webb, an Associate Wayne County Medical Examiner, testified that he prepared a postmortem report and body diagram of the decedent in this case which consisted of identification of the body, an external examination of the body, an internal examination of the organs, microscopic examination of tissues, and his opinion. He explained that he observed two gunshot wounds to Love's body, both on the front of his chest, one which had occurred at close range and the other from a distance, and injuries to his face. He could not determine which gunshot wound occurred first. Dr. Webb's internal examination revealed the injury paths of the two bullets. He found no medical abnormalities. Based upon the information gathered by the death investigators and his examination and toxicology report, Dr. Webb concluded that multiple gunshot wounds caused Love's death and he certified the manner of death as homicide.

Defendant testified that, on March 1, 2019, he returned from purchasing some alcoholic beverages at 3:00 p.m. to 14231 Strathmore, the house where, for the last five months, he resided with Love, Crawford, and his and Love's uncle. Defendant stated that he had a close relationship with his cousin, Love. Defendant testified that, around 4:00 p.m., Crawford came into the house and gave Love some cocaine and dropped off a gun and then left. Defendant testified that he sat in the living room which he used as his bedroom, and he and Love argued regarding a family matter raised in text messages a relative sent to Love. Their argument escalated to a physical altercation in which defendant and Love wrestled and pushed each other. Defendant testified that Love next tried to pick up the gun that Crawford left that had been placed underneath a pillow on the couch. Love told defendant "I'll kill you in this mother fucker." Defendant testified that he and Love wrestled over the gun until defendant somehow ended up with the gun, and when Love pushed him, defendant fell back over the couch. Defendant testified, "and as I'm getting back up he went to rush me and I pulled the trigger." Defendant asserted that his mind "was just chaotic, it was I don't know." Defendant testified:

[Love] rushed me again and while we was tussling, the gun went off again and he was on top of me. Then I rolled him off me and then he like he was trying to breathe, like cuz don't go. So I go outside, [Crawford] across the street and I'm thinking like I'm calling 911. I'm like-I go back into the house, so I go back into the house, I see him stop breathing. After he stopped breathing I left.

Defendant admitted that he fired the gun the first time, but stated that, the second time, the gun discharged while he and Love were wrestling, and he did not know how the gun went off. He denied that he tried to kill his cousin.

After the parties rested their cases, the trial court asked defense counsel if, in light of defendant's testimony, defendant desired any additional jury instructions. Defense counsel responded that the jury should be given a nonstandard instruction regarding momentary innocent possession of a weapon as permitted under People v Dupree, 486 Mich. 693; 788 N.W.2d 399 (2010). The trial court asked if defendant sought a manslaughter instruction in light of the fact that he testified that there was an absence of malice at the time of the shooting. Defense counsel answered affirmatively and the prosecution asserted that such additional charge would be appropriate based on the testimony. Defense counsel asked for a moment to consult with defendant and then stated, "At this point in time he does not want the manslaughter instruction." The trial court stated, "I'm bound by the law so I'm going to give the instruction." Defense counsel next requested that the jury be instructed regarding self-defense. The trial court agreed to give a self-defense instruction.

Defendant moved for a directed verdict on the ground that the prosecution failed to prove that defendant acted with premeditation and deliberation. The prosecution opposed the motion. The trial court considered the evidence in a light favorable to the prosecution and found that a rational trier of fact could find that the prosecution proved the elements of the charged offenses beyond a reasonable doubt. The trial court found issues of fact existed for the jury to decide.

Before instructing the jury, the trial court inquired whether the parties had reviewed the revised verdict form to which they each indicated that they had no objections. The trial court instructed the jury regarding the elements of the charged offenses that the prosecution had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, as well as voluntary manslaughter self-defense, and possession of a firearm in order to act in self-defense. The court instructed the jury that defendant did not have to prove that he acted in self-defense, but that the prosecution had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant did not act in self-defense. After completion of giving the jury its instructions, the...

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