People v. Wood

Decision Date28 October 2014
Docket NumberDocket No. 315379.
Citation862 N.W.2d 7,307 Mich.App. 485
CourtCourt of Appeal of Michigan — District of US
PartiesPEOPLE v. WOOD.

Bill Schuette, Attorney General, Aaron D. Lindstrom, Solicitor General, Jessica R. Cooper, Prosecuting Attorney, Thomas R. Grden, Chief, Appellate Division, and Matthew A. Fillmore, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for the people.

Michael A. Faraone, PC, Lansing (by Michael A. Faraone ), Jonathan B.D. Simon, Bloomfield Hills, and Alan C. Wood, in propria persona, for defendant.




Defendant appeals by right his convictions on alternative counts of first-degree premeditated murder, MCL 750.316(1)(a), and first-degree felony murder, MCL 750.316(1)(b) ; one count of larceny in a building, MCL 750. 360; and two counts of possessing, retaining, secreting, or using a financial transaction device, MCL 750.157n(1). The trial court sentenced defendant as a fourth-offense habitual offender, MCL 769.12, to concurrent terms of life in prison without parole for one count of first-degree murder supported by two theories, 46 months to 15 years for the larceny conviction, and 34 months to 15 years for each financial-transaction-device conviction.1 We affirm.


Defendant was convicted of killing 80–year–old Nancy Dailey and stealing her credit cards from her home on November 20, 2011. The prosecution had charged Tonia Michelle Watson as a codefendant with first-degree felony murder, larceny in a building, and stealing a financial transaction device. On December 21, 2012, Watson pleaded guilty of second-degree murder, MCL 750.317, larceny in a building, and unlawfully taking a financial transaction device. Watson testified against defendant at trial.

On November 20, 2011, Dailey's cousin—Leah Storto—and a neighbor—whom Storto identified as Steve—discovered Dailey's lifeless body and called 911. Police officers who arrived at Dailey's home described finding different areas of the home ransacked and her body bound and bloody in her bedroom. The autopsy revealed bruising on Dailey's face, neck, chest, and upper right back, the back of her left hand, her left wrist, and one of her ears; bruising and linear scrapes near her neck; “multiple sharp force injuries ... consist[ing] of a [7– to 8–inch] stab wound on the right side of the neck” that severed Dailey's carotid artery and jugular vein and a 5–inch “ slashing wound in front of the neck”; “a small nick on [Dailey's] left thumb”; and “some petechiae [pinpoint hemorrhages] on [her] cheeks, forehead and in the lower [eye]lids,” which often appear in instances of ligature or manual strangulation. Her death was ruled a homicide.

Another of Dailey's neighbors, Lois Hillebrand, identified defendant at trial as the man who had approached her on a Saturday in early November 2011 about raking her leaves and whom Hillebrand saw raking Dailey's leaves the next day. Another neighbor, Marie Heshczuk, testified that a couple of weeks before Dailey's death, she saw a white man and a white woman raking leaves in Dailey's front yard and the man “highly resemble[d] defendant. She also testified that while outside raking the leaves of her neighbor directly across the street from Dailey's house on November 20, 2011, she saw Dailey through her front window between 5:00 and 5:30 p.m., and also noticed an unfamiliar man walking past Dailey's house wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and dark pants. Another witness, Michael Wilson, identified defendant as a man he saw in an alley near Dailey's house at 5:30 p.m. on November 20, 2011.


Watson testified about her participation with defendant in Dailey's killing. Watson identified defendant in court as her boyfriend since November 2010. Watson also testified that she had regularly used cocaine and heroin for 25 years and that during her relationship with defendant, he regularly used marijuana and cocaine. Watson recalled that she and defendant met Dailey in early November 2011, when Dailey paid them $40 for raking leaves in her yard.

According to Watson, she and defendant were homeless in November 2011, struggling to pay for drugs and food, and living in different hotels or motels, primarily the Seville Motel on Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak south of Twelve Mile Road, but also at other lodging on Woodward Avenue, including the De Lido Motel south of Eight Mile Road. Watson testified that on November 20, 2011, she and defendant had checked out of their hotel because they “didn't have any money” and spent the day at a McDonald's restaurant located at Woodward Avenue and Thirteen Mile Road.2 According to Watson, defendant raised the idea of robbing Dailey, and she concurred in this idea because of their dire financial straits. Watson testified that they left the restaurant, waited until dark, walked toward Dailey's house, “walked around the block a couple of times,” noticed Dailey inside, and ascertained that a door was unlocked. Defendant then entered a side door and told Watson to go inside.

Watson testified that defendant told Dailey “that this was a robbery.” Defendant took from Dailey's living room a passport and a cellular phone; Watson took Dailey's purse and removed some money. After Dailey voiced a desire to use the bathroom, defendant instructed Watson to stand outside the open bathroom door, and Watson asked Dailey to give defendant “the ATM numbers to the credit cards”; defendant then searched Dailey's bedroom for valuables. When Dailey tried closing the bathroom door, defendant grabbed Dailey's hair, threw her to the ground, and dragged her into her bedroom by her hair. Defendant repeatedly punched Dailey's face, repeatedly stomped on Dailey's neck, twisted Dailey's neck with his hands, and then bound Dailey's hands with a scarf. Defendant showed Watson a knife before returning to Dailey's bedroom. Watson looked through Dailey's bedroom for jewelry. She observed Dailey lying by her closet and observed that she was not making any noise; Watson did not touch her. Watson left the house with Dailey's purse, containing an identification card and a wallet holding a Visa debit card and other credit or debit cards, while defendant left with jewelry and the cell phone and passport. A short time later, Watson observed that, in an area near the Seville Motel and a bus stop, defendant stomped into the ground in the Woodward Avenue median the knife he had used to cut and stab Dailey's throat.3

Watson testified that after 7:30 p.m. on November 20, 2011, she checked into the Seville Motel and that defendant discarded Dailey's cell phone on the motel roof and discarded other personal items from Dailey's purse elsewhere at the motel. Watson recalled that she found inside Dailey's purse a Visa debit card and what was apparently a personal identification number for it, that she asked defendant to try using the card, and that defendant left at about 7:45 p.m. and returned with $200 in cash that he had withdrawn using Dailey's card. Watson recounted that she then unsuccessfully tried withdrawing money at a bank near the hotel while wearing a bandana over her face and in defendant's company and that following a bus ride to Pontiac, defendant unsuccessfully tried using the card at a Mobil gas station. In Pontiac, defendant and Watson bought cocaine and heroin, and they then returned to the Seville Motel. Defendant walked past Dailey's house again that evening and noticed it “lit up like a Christmas tree,” which prompted Watson and defendant's relocation to the De Lido Motel.

Watson testified that on November 21, 2011, defendant put Dailey's passport, debit card, and other cards in a bag and left them under some trees near the De Lido Motel, that she and defendant left the motel4 and bought drugs in the Cass Corridor, and that Watson then checked them into a Westland lodging called the Paradise Hotel. Watson recalled that she and defendant walked toward a Meijer store in Canton, and along the way defendant discarded behind a Wal–Mart store a suitcase and a backpack that contained some of their clothing and a knife that defendant had stolen from the house where he had worked in September 2011.5 Watson testified that she and defendant had intended to find another elderly woman to rob, but police officers arrested them at the store. According to Watson, when she and defendant were arrested, defendant had injuries on his hand that she first noticed after they left Dailey's house on November 20, 2011.6 Watson testified that on November 23, 2011, she voluntarily provided lengthy statements to two detectives in which she revealed her and defendant's involvement in Dailey's death, the locations where “certain items could be located,” including the knife defendant used and some of Dailey's belongings, and that she accompanied the police to assist them in finding several items.


Amy Altesleben, an expert in DNA analysis, testified at defendant's preliminary examination7 that she received for analysis samples from a blue scarf, Dailey's nail clippings, a bloody washcloth found in Dailey's house, a sample of Dailey's blood, defendant's jeans and sweatshirt, and known samples from defendant and Watson. Altesleben determined that the blue scarf sample contained a DNA mixture from at least four contributors. She could not identify “a major donor in that sample” and could not exclude defendant as a contributor. In analyzing the nail clippings from Dailey's right hand, Altesleben explained that she found a mixture of DNA from more than two contributors, she could not identify major and minor donors, and she could not “make any conclusive determinations regarding [defendant's] DNA as being a contributor to this profile.” However, “a Y DNA type was detected on this sample which would indicate that at least one of the donors must be male.” Altesleben forwarded...

To continue reading

Request your trial
5 cases
  • Wood v. Nagy
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Michigan
    • August 3, 2020
    ...The Michigan Court of Appeals rejected all of the claims and affirmed Wood's convictions in a published decision. See People v. Wood, 862 N.W.2d 7 (Mich. Ct. App. 2014). Wood then filed a pro se application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court, raising the same claims that were......
  • Graham v. Skipper
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Michigan
    • October 6, 2021
    ...was unavailable at trial and ample opportunity for cross-examination was afforded at the preliminary examination. See People v Wood, 307 Mich.App. 485, 518; 862 N.W.2d 7 (2014), vacated in part on other 498 Mich. 914 (2015). (Mich. Ct. App. Op., ECF No. 2-1, PageID.50-51.) The appellate cou......
  • King v. Winn
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Michigan
    • April 22, 2020
    ...Id.A criminal defendant has the right to have a properly instructed jury consider the evidence against him. People v. Wood, 307 Mich. App. 485, 519; 862 N.W.2d 7 (2014), vacated in part on other grounds 498 Mich. 914 (2015). "This Court reviews jury instructions as a whole to determine whet......
  • State v. Tucker
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court
    • December 14, 2018
    ...unfair prejudice through confusing or misleading jury did not substantially outweigh probative value of evidence); People v. Wood , 307 Mich. App. 485, 862 N.W.2d 7 (2014), vacated in part on other grounds 498 Mich. 914, 871 N.W.2d 154 (2015) (limitations of Y-STR DNA testing were presented......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT