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The Killing Season - Websleuths

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  1. #1
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    MI - Deanna Seifert, age 10, murdered in Warren, 1992

    [For the record, I do not know Andrew Trombley, his friends or family. I know no one involved in this case to the best of my knowledge. My reason for writing it simply because it seems to me to be a miscarriage of justice. Trombley may be a total scumbag for all I know but that by itself is not reason enough to waste the man’s life away in prison for a crime in which some of the worst evidence I have heard about was allowed in court. I certainly wouldn’t want this to happen to me or to anyone including Andrew Trombley. This is still America. More and more, though, I am less able to define what that means anymore.—Omori]

    On May 10, 1992, at about 3:00 a.m., Adeline Mary Deittrick a resident of Warren, Michigan, was unable to sleep in her house on Essex Street. She left her bedroom, came downstairs and looked through her front door. She later told police that she saw a van parked in the driveway of a neighbor’s house and saw a long-haired man carrying a sleeping girl in his arms. As she watched, the man put the girl down by the van as he opened the driver’s door. He then picked up the girl, carried her to the back of the van, set her down again and opened the double backdoors of the van and threw the girl in or perhaps tossed her into the arms of another person—Deittrick could not be sure. The man then climbed in after the girl and closed the doors. About 30 seconds later, Deittrick saw someone get into the driver’s seat and speed off without turning on the headlights.

    There had been a sleepover at the McCracken house. Lindsey McCracken had invited another girl she had met the previous day, 10-year-old Deanna Seifert, to spend the night. Lindsey and her siblings lived in the Essex Street house with their mother, Denise McCracken and a woman named Lori Menzo. The house had been rented by Lindsay’s father, Don Crikon. On this night, however, Crikon was serving a 90-day jail sentence for violating parole. Menzo was also not in the house at the time. Deanna, who also lived on Essex Street, was introduced to Lindsey by a mutual friend and both girls hit it off quickly. Deanna brought a nightgown with her and donned it as she and Lindsey retired to Menzo’s unoccupied bedroom in the rear of the house at about 11 p.m. Denise McCracken stated that she locked the front and back doors of the house at about 1 a.m. just before retiring.

    Nobody in the house heard anything unusual throughout the night and into the morning. By daybreak, Deanna Seifert was missing. Her street clothing was left behind. After a perfunctory search turned up no sign of the girl, the police were called. They examined the doors and saw no sign of forced entry and speculated that the kidnapper might have had a key. The cops canvassed the neighborhood and interviewed residents. In addition to Adeline Mary Deittrick, a man named David Leija told police he saw a van parked in front of the McCracken residence at about 12:45 a.m. He said the van belonged to a man who used to live there until recently. That man was 22-year-old Andrew James Trombley, the nephew of Don Crikon and the former-boyfriend of Lori Menzo. Trombley had lived in the McCracken house on Essex very briefly but had moved out eight weeks prior to Deanna’s disappearance. Trombley then moved in with his mother, Joyce Crickon, who lived in an apartment above the Hitching Post Bar off Eight Mile Road. Trombley still visited the McCracken residence frequently. Police learned, however, that Trombley still retained a key to the McCracken residence.

    Trombley was arrested on May 10th for apparently driving without a license and held in jail while the search for Deanna continued. Trombley insisted that he was innocent and that he had never met nor even seen Deanna Seifert in his life. The press was having a field day. Don Crikon was released from jail and promptly vanished from sight. The local media made it sound as though Crikon had the girl with him and that if he were found, she would be found with him. Eventually, authorities caught up with Crikon as he slept in a motel room. He was shocked and bewildered to wake up to guns pointing in his face. All he had done was leave jail, he said. He not only did not have Deanna Seifert with him, like his nephew, Crikon claimed had never heard of the girl nor had ever laid eyes on her.

    As the days dragged on, the national media picked up the story while the search for Deanna Seifert continued. The series America’s Most Wanted even featured a segment asking viewers to call their hotline if they think they had seen the girl. Over a thousand tips, all of them bogus, flooded in. Deanna Seifert was nowhere to be found. The search came to an end over two months after her abduction and only a mile from her home when a tool shop owner discovered the girl’s corpse still wearing her nightgown in a scrap metal bin in a lot behind his business in an industrial park on Blackstone Road north of Nine Mile Road. The lot had been searched before by police, by foot and helicopter. They reported finding nothing unusual even though expert testimony concluded that the body had been there for about the length of time the girl had been missing. Warren Deputy Police Chief Carl Muschong had no explanation for how the girl’s body had been missed. Detroit television news crews had also searched the area on foot and by helicopter and had seen nothing. The corpse bore signs of blunt force trauma to the skull. Blood was found in the area and, despite significant rainfall during the time that Deanna was missing, was at least determined to be human. Deanna’s panties appeared to have been removed from her body and then replaced inside out. Three human pubic hairs were found on the panties.

    At 2:00 a.m. on May 10, security guard John R. Williams was in the guard shack in front of the ACCO building (American Chain & Conveyor Co.) and testified that he saw a light-colored van with one headlight out turn onto Blackstone Road from Nine Mile Road and drive up and down the street before parking in front of a building across from ACCO. Williams left the shack to make his rounds and when he returned the van was gone. Deanna Seifert’s body would eventually be discovered behind that building. Andrew Trombley drove a light-colored van with one headlight out.

    As police further investigated Trombley’s movements on the night of May 9th and into the early morning hours of May 10th, they interviewed John Sliwa who lived near the Hitching Post Bar. Sliwa told police that at about 2:00 or 2:30 in the morning, he had heard glass breaking. He looked out his window and saw three men walking down the middle of the street followed by a Chevy or GM van covered with gray primer. The van stopped in front of Sliwa’s house and a woman approached the van and spoke to the driver through the passenger side window. Sliwa said he heard one of men outside the van say, “Are you going to help us do this, *****? If not, get your ****ing ass back home.” The woman left and the men and van continued north for about two blocks and then the three men got inside the van which then left the area. This means that Sliwa either saw this on Griffin or Mullin streets—both of which run north and south. Those are the only two streets in that neighborhood behind the Hitching Post that do run north and south. Sliwa stated he had seen the van at the Hitching Post many times since June of 1991 and had seen Trombley walk by his residence many times since that date and had even exchanged greetings with him on a number of occasions.

    Police also located Donna Sherman who said she was stepping out of a cab on Rivard Street in front of her parents’ house at about 3:30 to 4:00 in the morning when a beat-up gray primer van pulled out of the back entrance of the Hitching Post lot and sped down the street at a high rate nearly side-swiping the cab. In the truck were two white males with long hair. She said she had seen the van quite a number of times in the past two weeks parked at the Hitching Post and identified the driver she had seen as being Andrew Trombley. Sherman’s sister, Tammy Bowers, also stated that she saw a beat-up, dull gray, rusty van with a loud exhaust pull out of the Hitching Post parking lot onto Rivard and nearly side-swipe the cab as she watched from the porch of her parents’ house. She said there were two men in the van and indentified the van as being Andrew Trombley’s and said she had seen it several times parked at the Hitching Post. Cab driver, Ray Zander, stated his cab was nearly side-swiped by an old gray primer Chevy or Ford van and that the driver was Andrew Trombley who was laughing and turning his head as though talking to someone in the passenger side.

    Trombley stated that he attended a birthday party at the Hitching Post and was there from 7:30 or 8:00 p.m. until around 2:00 a.m. when the place closed and that he had had a lot to drink and needed help to get back to his mother’s apartment upstairs. Several witnesses testified that Trombley was heavily intoxicated. Sandra Lynn Miller stated she helped Trombley to the steps of Joyce Crikon’s apartment at about 2:15 a.m. and watched him crawl up the stairs. Crikon stated her son came up at about 2:30 p.m. and told her he was really loaded and then passed out on the couch for the rest of the night. One witness disagrees—Christine Kahl—who stated that Trombley was not particularly intoxicated, left the party at about 1:30 a.m. and that his van was not in the parking lot when she left at 2:15 a.m.

    Things did not look good for Trombley who was charged with kidnapping and first-degree murder. Forensics experts testified at the trial that blood matching Deanna’s was found on one of Trombley’s shoes. Further, 39 fibers from a jogging jacket found in Joyce Crikon’s apartment matched those found on the corpse. They also testified that four of Deanna’s fingerprints were found in Trombley’s van and that she had never had a reason to be in Trombley’s van. The police and public prosecutor maintained that Trombley likely abducted the girl and sold her to people who raped and killed her. A jury agreed and Trombley was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to prison for 40 to 60 years. He remains incarcerated as of this writing. Trombley appealed his conviction but an appeals court upheld the original conviction.

    The scene of this crime is very close to my neighborhood—part of it, really. To familiarize myself with all these sites, I have driven what I think is the quickest route from the Hitching Post Bar (which is still in operation) to Essex Street. Leaving the back lot, one can only turn right on Rivard. To the left is a dead end beyond which is a large, old factory building. After turning right on Rivard towards the east, one immediately comes upon Mullin Road that runs north. If one continues on Rivard, one will come upon Griffin which also runs north. The neighborhood is bounded on the east by Hoover Road which is a major thoroughfare. Griffin ends about two blocks north and one is forced to turn left back to Mullin. Mullin runs through an industrial park and ends at Toepfer and then one turns left on Toepfer and takes it to MacArthur and hangs a right. MacArthur runs north past Nine Mile and then a few blocks up from that is Essex. It takes only a few minutes to go from the Hitching Post to Essex. I’ve driven the route both at night and day and there is little difference in the amount of time it takes. Blackstone Road, although busy during the day, is almost entirely deserted at night except for the occasional trucker since it is an industrial park and hence a very good place to dump a body. The same is true of Mullin, part of which is pretty much deserted at night. Strangely, one of the factories on Mullin is Scion Steel, easily the biggest plant there. On Blackstone, there is another Scion Steel plant. Since this general area has a high number of children, I realized how easy it would be for a predator to abduct and murder a child out here and never be caught. I’m amazed it doesn’t happen more often. Whoever abducted and murdered Deanna Seifert would have had no shortage of places within a two-mile radius of her home to commit the deed with complete assurance of no witnesses.

    While the narrative seems open and shut, it is riddled with flaws—so much so that one is forced to ask if it is possible that Andrew Trombley could even be involved in the kidnap/murder of Deanna Seifert much less that there was any real evidence with which to try him. Much of the narrative I supplied here above came from the following link:

    http://statecasefiles.justia.com/doc...?ts=1323899974

    This is the official State Court of Appeals report on why the conviction of Andrew Trombley is justified. Reading the report forces us to conclude the opposite. What’s strange is that the narrative lays out what seems to be a convincing case of Trombley’s guilt yet the footnotes contained in the report virtually destroy the case so carefully laid out in the narrative. Furthermore, much of the information that was well known and frequently reported by the press when the murder and trial was fresh on people’s minds is missing in this report. Let’s look more closely at the prosecution’s airtight case.

  2. #2
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    The most damning piece of evidence is the blood on Trombley’s shoe being matched to Deanna Seifert’s. If the blood is hers, there is virtually no chance that Trombley could not have been present at the time of her death. The blood on the shoe was compared to Seifert’s Guthrie card from her birth certificate. The Guthrie card showed Deanna’s blood type as AB and her PGM enzyme reading is 1+. The blood found on Trombley’s shoe tested positive for A and B antigens and also had a 1+ reading for the PGM enzyme. Trombley’s blood is type O with a 2+ for PGM enzyme. Pretty damning except that the blood on the shoe cannot be positively matched to Deanna Seifert’s. Simply testing for antigens and PGM enzyme cannot conclude a positive match. At best, the blood could have been Seifert’s. But how did blood get on the shoe. How often does human blood get on anyone’s shoe? For most of us, very rarely, if ever. But Trombley is an ex-con, a roughneck, not afraid to get or give a bloody nose. The blood could be from a scrap he got into or that he had witnessed. In fact, it would be odd if a man like Andrew Trombley didn’t have blood on his attire at some point. So the strongest piece of evidence is purely circumstantial.

    What about the 39 fibers? The jogging jacket had also been regularly worn by at least two other people at the McCracken residence besides Andrew Trombley. The expert witness believed the fibers came from direct contact between Seifert’s nightgown and the jacket but conceded that it was possible even if unlikely that Seifert could have picked up the fibers from furniture in the McCracken house. Moreover, the fibers were not matched positively to the jacket but, in fact, could have come from a very similar jacket. Also “a large number” of black and blue polyester and cotton fibers were also found on Seifert’s nightgown that have never been accounted for. The fiber evidence therefore is circumstantial.

    What about the fingerprint evidence? Deanna Seifert had never been fingerprinted. Her corpse could not be fingerprinted and attempts to fingerprint her belongings were not successful. Technicians retrieved 100 homework papers from her room and matched 32 prints found on the papers with the four found in Trombley’s van. The conclusion of the expert witnesses was that the fingerprints cannot be positively matched to Deanna Seifert but are probably hers. The report states:

    Although defendant theorized that Deanna may have been in his van without his knowledge while playing with the McCracken girls, there was no specific testimony placing Deanna inside defendant’s van at any time prior to the incident in question.

    The essence of American justice is innocence until guilt is proven. If we are not allowed to theorize that Deanna Seifert could have been in Trombley’s van earlier in the day simply because there is no compelling reason why we should not suppose this as a way of explaining them, then we can convict anyone of any crime because we have removed from them the most basic means by which to defend themselves from charges or accusations. We may as well do away with trials altogether.

    Eyewitness testimony has long been known to be notoriously unreliable and the Seifert case is certainly no exception. Starting with Adeline Mary Deittrick, she stated originally that she did not see Andrew Trombley at the McCracken residence that early morning. She, in fact, stated that the van was not Trombley’s which she knew well. She said the van she saw that morning was too new to be Trombley’s. Some weeks later, she changed her mind and stated that the man she saw looked like Trombley and that the van was his. How does one’s memory improve over time? Moreover, she told the press the reason why she changed her mind—the police had shown her various vans under sodium street lamps in the dark to demonstrate how lighting can hide bad paint jobs and rust and make the van look newer than it is. Since when is it the business of the police to try to change an eyewitness’s testimony and why did the judge not toss Deittrick’s testimony on those grounds?

    Even stranger, the appeals court report stated that Deittrick saw only one man during the kidnapping but, at the time of the trial, the press stated over and over that Deittrick saw two men: one who handed the girl to someone inside the van that she could not fully see. I quote from two typical reports from that time:

    The Orlando Sentinel dated October 21, 1992:

    WARREN, MICH. — A man has been charged with murdering a 10-year-old girl abducted from a neighbor's house during a sleep-over party. Andrew Trombley, 22, was arraigned Tuesday on a felony murder charge. Trombley had been jailed on a kidnapping charge since a day after Deanna Seifert's abduction May 10. Trombley was arrested after a neighbor told police she saw him and another man carrying the girl out to a van. The girl's body was discovered about a mile from her parents' house July 13. Trombley has maintained his innocence.

    The Cass City Chronicle dated May 20, 1992:

    “According to published reports, Trombley has denied involvement, but investigators say they have two independent tips that say that Trombley handed Deanna over to someone else.”

    The court report tries to downplay Deittrick’s statements and say that only one man was present and that man looked like Trombley but the report also admits “Deittrick testified that she thought the man she had seen was defendant. However, Deittrick admitted that, when she first spoke to police, she did not tell them that she thought she knew the identity of the man who had taken the girl.” Why would that be? The girl is missing but this woman doesn’t bother to tell police that the man she saw taking the girl was someone she knew? There is only one reason why she would do this—she did not think the man was Andrew Trombley until after he was named as the prime suspect. Basically, her testimony is worthless and should not have been allowed.

    What about John Sliwa’s story of seeing three men walking in front of a gray primer van near the Hitching Post Bar and being joined by a unidentified woman. He testified that the van was Trombley’s that he had seen the van many times since June of 1991 when Sliwa first moved into his residence and that he had also seen Trombley many times from that same date. Upon being informed that Trombley had been incarcerated in June 1991 and not released until March of 1992, Sliwa responded that the man he saw “looked an awful hell of a lot like him.” Sliwa’s testimony is worthless.

    Regarding Donna Sherman, police reports stated she could not identify the driver of the van or even the van itself initially. Sherman admitted that she did not identify the driver or van until after police showed her photos of both. She further admitted that she had seen numerous news reports of the case which prominently depicted Trombley and his van prior to giving testimony at his trial. Donna Sherman’s testimony is worthless.

    The cabdriver, Ray Zander, likewise admitted that he could not identify the van or driver but only became convinced that the van was Trombley’s and that the driver was Trombley after seeing numerous news reports on the case. Zander’s testimony is worthless.

    What about the security guard on Blackstone Road who had seen Trombley’s van the night of the murder pull up in front of the very building where Seifert’s body would eventually be found? Again, the appeals court’s own report admits that the guard could not identify Trombley’s van as the one he had seen even when shown photographs of it. He also stated that he might have told police he saw a dark-colored van not a light-colored one. If this is true, he did not see Andrew Trombley’s van. John R. William’s testimony is worthless.

    What about the three pubic hairs found on the girl’s body, surely that tells us if Trombley is guilty—but only if the hairs belong to him. Extensive tests proved they did not. Each hair belonged to a different Caucasian person but not even the gender of these people is known. But because Andrew Trombley was available for testing, he was definitely eliminated as a source for any of the hairs.

    What about the lack of forced entry and Trombley having a key to the house? Depending on the type of door and lock, the kidnapper could have easily picked the lock to get in. He could have come in through a window. If this person was experienced at this kind of thing, he could get in with little trouble. There’s any number of possibilities than supposing the kidnapper must have had a key. Who else might have had keys to the residence? But there is yet another distinct possibility that we will explore later.

    Also strange is that the news stories at that time were rife with reports that hairs from Deanna Seifert were found on Trombley’s clothing yet in this appeals court report, there is no mention of this. Were the news stories wrong or was the appeals court quietly dumping erroneous forensics information from their report? This is significant because witnesses have admitted to watching and reading the news reports of the case prior to the trial of Andrew James Trombley. The court report makes no mention of Deanna’s hairs being found on Andrew Trombley’s clothing or van. We can assume the jurors must have also read and watched news reports on the case as well. To what extent was their conclusion biased by misinformation presented in these reports? People thinking that a victims hairs being found on the clothing of a suspect could certainly predispose them towards a guilty verdict.

    But why would the police be so hell-bent on hanging the crime on Andrew Trombley? The reason is easy to understand for anyone who has followed the case from the beginning: Trombley was an ex-convict who hated and distrusted the police. Not long before the kidnap and murder of Deanna Seifert, Trombley had gotten into a confrontation with the cops that culminated in Trombley charging and attacking a cop. They hated him and he them. This was compounded by the fact that Trombley was far from a model prisoner having served a full five-year sentence instead earning time off because he was constantly in violation of prison rules. True, he didn’t help himself with his record and his violent behavior, but Andrew Trombley had never been arrested for sex crimes or for anything to do with children. He was, in fact, supposedly fond of children and quite good with them. Nobody knows of any case of Trombley hurting or threatening to hurt a child.

    My purpose is not point the fingers but to draw attention to the fact that a man who may have been entirely innocent of the crime for which he is currently serving time (and has been for going on two decades now) was tried and convicted by the media before his trial even began. The only travesty of justice bigger than a guilty man walking is an innocent one serving a guilty one’s sentence. The evidence in this case was such that Andrew Trombley should never have been tried at all. Yet read the appeals court report—it’s literally incredible.

    The court defended the conviction stating:

    There was sufficient evidence to submit the charge of second-degree murder to the jury. There was evidence Deanna S[ei]fert was taken to the crime scene in defendant’s van. Expert testimony connected fibers from one of defendant’s jackets [to] the fibers found on Deanna Seifert’s nightgown. Blood matching Deanna S[ei]fert’s blood type was found on defendant’s shoe. While there were some conflicts in the testimony, the credibility and weight to be given to the testimony is within the province of the jury. People v Johnson, 128 Mich App 618, 623; 341 NW2d 160 (1983). The jury’s verdict was not against the great weight of the evidence.

    There seems to be a bit of sleight of hand in the above statement. No, the jury’s verdict was not against the great weight of the evidence. That’s not the issue. The issue is that the evidence is circumstantial at best and worthless at worst. If the court rules the evidence admissible then the jury has no choice but to weigh it. The question is, was the evidence strong enough to be admissible. I argue that it was not for the reasons already cited: the blood was not positively identified as Deanna Seifert’s, the fingerprints were not positively identified as Deanna Seifert’s, the fibers were not proven to be transferred by direct contact. “While there were some conflicts in the testimony” is an understatement that makes me wonder if the person who wrote this opinion was able to keep a straight face while doing so. There were HUGE conflicts in the testimony, so huge as to be insurmountable. A case can be made that the verdict based on the evidence deemed by the court as admissible was not perverse, but the case can also be made that the evidence itself was perverse and should never have been deemed admissible.

    Concerning John Sliwa’s account of the three men walking down the street with a van following and meeting a woman, the report states:

    As the woman leaned in the passenger side of the van, one of the men outside the van said “are you coming to help us do this, *****? If not, get your ****ing ass back home.” Defense counsel objected to the admission of this statement on hearsay grounds. The trial court ruled that the statement overheard by Sliwa was admissible as a coconspirator’s statement.

    Statements of coconspirators are admissible and exempt from the definition of hearsay only where there is independent proof of the conspiracy. See MRE 801(d)(2)(E). See also People v Cadle, 204 Mich App 646, 654; 516 NW2d 520 (1994). A coconspirator’s statement may be admitted conditionally under this rule “subject to later independent proof of the conspiracy.” Id. Circumstantial evidence of an agreement is sufficient. People v Vega, 413 Mich 773, 780; 321 NW2d 675 (1982); People v Cotton, 191 Mich App 377, 392-394; 478 NW2d 681 (1991). We do not believe the statement was properly admitted.

    After reviewing the record, however, we hold that even if there was error in the admission of Sliwa’s testimony, the error was not decisive of the outcome. People v Figgures, 451 Mich 390, 402; 547 NW2d 673 (1996). Except for the hearsay words of the pedestrian, Sliwa’s observations were properly admitted.


    So the appeals court concedes that Sliwa’s account was not properly admitted to the jury as evidence but basically shrugs and says, “Oh, well, it didn’t really hurt anything. Oh, and other than the improper admission of hearsay as evidence, the statement was properly admitted.” Now, I am not a law school graduate or even a law school dropout but does this sound to the reader to be proper legal logic and procedure? To me, it sounds unbelievably incompetent. If you, dear reader, were imprisoned for a crime which you did not commit and for which the evidence was as weak as it is in this case, would you want this particular appeals court reviewing your case? I’ll bet the answer is an unconditional no. This statement confirms my contention that while the jury’s decision was not perverse based in part upon testimony that the court deemed admissible as evidence, the testimony should never have been deemed admissible in the first place and here the appeals court actually agrees with me but then decided virtually in the same breath that it doesn’t matter anyway! The court further states:

    We are persuaded that any error in the presentation of the alleged hearsay testimony was not decisive to the outcome of this case. The meaning of the statement overheard by Sliwa was, at best, nebulous. The identity of the speaker, his companions, and their connection, if any, with defendant was never established by the prosecution. Further, Sliwa’s credibility was seriously damaged during crossexamination (see, for example, footnote 5). Finally, the evidence properly admitted was sufficient to support defendant’s conviction. For these reasons, we conclude that any error in the admission of Sliwa’s testimony was harmless.

    So, while the testimony was admitted as evidence of a conspiracy to abduct and murder Deanna Seifert, it was ultimately harmless—meaning it had no effect on the outcome of the case. Why, then, was it ever introduced much less deemed admissible?

    I am astounded at how the appeals court gives such weight to the testimony to justify the conviction of Andrew Trombley as follows:

    Adeline Mary Deittrick testified that at approximately 3:00 a.m., she saw defendant’s van parked in front of the McCracken residence. She then saw “a man coming out of the yard carrying a girl.” Deittrick thought the man was defendant. The man carried the child to the back of the van, opened the rear door and “[e]ither tossed her to somebody or threw her in.” About thirty seconds later “somebody got in the driver’s seat and took off” fast, without turning on the headlights. Defendant had one of the few keys to the residence and there was no sign of forced entry. The van in which the child was placed was positively identified as defendant’s van by witnesses who had seen the van on numerous prior occasions. Donna Sherman, Tammy Bowers and Ray Zander testified, with some variations, that shortly after Deanna’s abduction they saw a van that looked liked defendant’s come out of the rear entrance to the Hitching Post Bar parking lot, speed down the street, and nearly strike the cab from which Sherman had just alighted. Sherman and Zander identified defendant as the driver of the van. Additionally, Sherman and Bowers testified that they saw two people inside the van. Zander testified that, as the van drove by, defendant was laughing and turning his head as though he was talking to someone on the passenger side of the van. Deanna’s body was eventually found inside a garbage bin in a parking lot less than a mile from the McCracken residence. A van similar to defendant’s was seen at this location on the night Deanna was abducted and murdered.

    Let’s attack this point by point once again:

    · Adeline Mary Deittrick testified that at approximately 3:00 a.m., she saw defendant’s van parked in front of the McCracken residence. She then saw “a man coming out of the yard carrying a girl.” Deittrick thought the man was defendant. The man carried the child to the back of the van, opened the rear door and “[e]ither tossed her to somebody or threw her in.” About thirty seconds later “somebody got in the driver’s seat and took off” fast, without turning on the headlights. Defendant had one of the few keys to the residence and there was no sign of forced entry. The van in which the child was placed was positively identified as defendant’s van by witnesses who had seen the van on numerous prior occasions.

    Deittrick did not originally claim the van was Trombley’s and did not name Trombley as the man she had seen carrying Deanna until after police had named him as the prime suspect. That there was no sign of forced entry doesn’t then allow us to conclude that the defendant must have been the culprit simply because he had a key.

    · Donna Sherman, Tammy Bowers and Ray Zander testified, with some variations, that shortly after Deanna’s abduction they saw a van that looked liked defendant’s come out of the rear entrance to the Hitching Post Bar parking lot, speed down the street, and nearly strike the cab from which Sherman had just alighted. Sherman and Zander identified defendant as the driver of the van. Additionally, Sherman and Bowers testified that they saw two people inside the van. Zander testified that, as the van drove by, defendant was laughing and turning his head as though he was talking to someone on the passenger side of the van

    “With some variations” is an apparent euphemism for at least Sherman and Zander admitting they really had no idea what the van looked like or who was driving it until after the local media and police had exposed them to the existence of Trombley and his van. Even if this was Trombley and his van all it means is that Trombley left somewhere to go in his van and nothing more.

    · Deanna’s body was eventually found inside a garbage bin in a parking lot less than a mile from the McCracken residence. A van similar to defendant’s was seen at this location on the night Deanna was abducted and murdered.

    That Seifert’s body was recovered “inside a garbage bin” doesn’t have anything to do with the observations of Sherman, Bowers and Zander as this report seems to be intimating and we’ll demonstrate why shortly. “A van similar to the defendant’s” being seen at that location only holds water if we don’t question the witness very closely since he admitted he wasn’t even sure if the van was light or dark and thought he might have even told the police it was dark—in which case, the van could not have been Trombley’s. Whoever wrote the opinion of the appellate court should go back to law school for a radical refresher.

    If this testimony is so compelling and so unassailable that we can uphold Trombley’s conviction with it, then it should be very consistent with the facts of the case. Now let’s attempt to construct a timeline of the kidnapping using this eyewitness testimony. We would have to assume that Trombley first left the birthday party at the Hitching Post close to 12: 45 a.m. without anyone seeing him leave and went to the McCracken residence where Denise McCracken never saw him pulled up in front of her house even though neighbor David Leija did. Instead McCracken locks the doors and goes to bed. Trombley then left after a few minutes and raced back to the Hitching Post before anyone realized he was gone and stayed at the party until 1:30 a.m. before leaving according to Christine Kahl. Then Trombley persuaded three friends either from the party or who were living somewhere nearby to help him commit this heinous crime between 2:00 and 2:30 a.m. when John Sliwa saw them walking down the street near the Hitching Post and then they dumped Deanna Seifert’s body on Blackstone Road at 2:00 a.m. where the van was seen by security guard John Williams. Then Trombley apparently went back to the Crikon apartment or the Hitching Post for at least a half an hour and then went to the McCracken residence at 3:00 a.m., used his key to get in, and was seen by Adeline Mary Deittrick abducting Deanna whose body he had already dumped on Blackstone Road an hour earlier! Then he went to back to the Crikon apartment/Hitching Post for at least another half an hour before tearing out of the back lot onto Rivard at 3:30 or 4:00 a.m. nearly side-swiping a cab. Aside from the impossibility of the chronology, Mr. Trombley was certainly a very busy man that night, wasn’t he?

  3. #3
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    Since Seifert’s body had been dumped at least and hour and a half before Sherman, Bowers and Zander saw Trombley leaving the Hitching Post lot in his van, then, at best, he was on his way to do something unrelated to the abduction or murder. So even if these three people really saw Trombley, their testimony points to nothing. It certainly doesn’t support the prosecution’s contention that Trombley and at least one accomplice were on their way to either abduct Seifert or dispose of her body since the timeline shows both tasks had already been accomplished.

    What is the court’s opinion of the circumstantial nature of the evidence?

    Here, even though the trial court refused to amend CJI2d 4.3, the circumstantial evidence instruction, to include language to the effect that if the evidence was susceptible to a construction indicating innocence the jury had a duty to acquit, this refusal does not constitute grounds for reversal because after reviewing the jury instructions in their entirety we conclude that the concept of circumstantial evidence was adequately presented to the jury. Daniel, supra. Moreover, the language requested by defendant has been criticized by this Court because it unfairly enhances the prosecution’s burden of proof. See People v Moore, 176 Mich App 555, 557-565; 440 NW2d 67 (1989) (Hammond, J., concurring). Additionally, this Court has repeatedly held that “it is unnecessary for the prosecutor to negate every reasonable theory consistent with defendant’s innocence.” People v Carson, 189 Mich App 268, 269; 471 NW2d 655 (1991); People v Hahn, 183 Mich App 465, 470; 455 NW2d 310 (1989), modified 437 Mich 867 (1990); People v Daniels, 163 Mich App 703, 707; 415 NW2d 282 (1987). Rather, it is sufficient if the prosecution proves its own theory beyond a reasonable doubt in the face of whatever contradictory evidence the defendant may provide. Carson, supra; Hahn, supra; Daniels, supra. Hence, defendant’s amendatory language was inconsistent with the law in this state.

    I am not arguing that the jury did not understand the instructions given them, I am arguing the adequacy of the instructions themselves due to statements as “…unfairly enhances the prosecution’s burden of proof.” The prosecution’s burden of proof is guilt beyond a reasonable doubt—how can that requirement be unfairly enhanced? They either prove Trombley is guilty or they fail.

    The court writes:

    We believe the evidence presented in this case was sufficient for a reasonable factfinder to conclude that all the elements of first-degree felony murder were established beyond a reasonable doubt.

    I am a reasonable factfinder and I conclude nothing of the sort. This statement only proves that the prosecution failed to prove its case since Trombley was convicted of second degree murder. Evidently, the jury did not agree that “all the elements of first-degree felony murder were established beyond a reasonable doubt.”

    As we indicated above, it could be inferred from the evidence that defendant wilfully and without authority kidnapped Deanna and asported her somewhere. Defendant, or someone who looked like him, was seen carrying a child from the McCracken residence at approximately 3:00 a.m.

    “It could be inferred” that Trombley kidnapped Seifert. Before I convict a man of murder, I want the prosecution to give me something that PROVES the defendant was responsible not something by which I can only INFER it. Even worse, we’re going to INFER the defendant’s guilt because “someone who looked like him, was seen carrying a child from the McCracken residence…” What a superb standard of evidence we have here! We can convict an accused person just because he or she looks like someone who was committing a crime. But she had testified the van was Trombley’s, says the court. Let’s then assume the van was Trombley’s. Does that mean Trombley was man the witness saw? No. If at least three men were in the van as the prosecution at least implied, could it not have been one of them? Certainly. Did Trombley even have to be present? No. Is it possible Trombley could have been present but passed out from excess drink? Yes. It may sound like a long shot, but it is no less reasonable to INFER that Trombley was not involved in the crime than that he was—especially when we remember that the witness did not initially believe the van was Trombley’s but only after police convinced her of it.

    Moreover, the van in which the child was placed was positively identified as defendant’s van by witnesses who had seen the van on numerous prior occasions.

    This is purely false. There was only one witness who saw a man placing a girl in a van. Other witnesses saw a van out and about on the night in question and stated it was Trombley’s (but often admitting that this was only after police and media influence) but the vans seen by these witnesses certainly could have been anyone’s and not necessarily the same one Deittrick claimed to have seen. The above statement is misleading and it seems deliberately so and hence is a lie!

    Some statements made by the court were simply bizarre such as follows:

    Defendant next argues that his forty-year minimum sentence for second-degree murder is disproportionate under People v Milbourn, 435 Mich 630; 461 NW2d 1 (1990). We disagree. Defendant’s forty- to sixty-year sentence exceeds the minimum guidelines range of ten to twenty-five years. In sentencing defendant to a minimum sentence in excess of the guidelines range, the trial court indicated that the following factors were not adequately addressed by the guidelines and justified a departure from the guidelines’ recommended range: (1) the heinous nature of the crime (a ten-year-old girl abducted, perhaps raped, killed by a crushing blow to the head and left in a trash bin); (2) the viciousness and unprovoked nature of the kidnapping and murder; (3) defendant’s character (including the fact that defendant had a long history of assaultive behavior, that he had been incarcerated for five years and had committed the instant offense only two months after his release from prison); (4) the large number of misconduct tickets defendant received while incarcerated; (5) defendant’s poor attitude while incarcerated; and (6) defendant’s minimal potential for rehabilitation.

    Why should the defendant’s past behavior have anything to do with his sentence for the crime of which he is charged? If we agree that kidnap and murder of a 10-year-old girl justifies exceeding the minimum sentence, how much more time do poor attitude during incarceration and misconduct tickets contribute? Six months? A year? Five years?

    Regarding the defense’s request for a change of venue which was turned down, we find more convoluted logic as to why a change of venue was not warranted:

    defendant claims that because of the extensive pretrial publicity, the trial court should have granted his motion for a change of venue. We disagree. The existence of pretrial publicity, standing alone, does not necessitate a change of venue. People v Passeno, 195 Mich App 91, 98; 489 NW2d 152 (1992); People v Furman, 158 Mich App 302, 321; 404 NW2d 246 (1987). Rather, to be entitled to a change of venue, the defendant must show that there is either a pattern of strong community feeling against him and that the publicity is so extensive and inflammatory that jurors could not remain impartial when exposed to it, or that the jury was actually prejudiced or that the atmosphere surrounding the trial was such as would create a probability of prejudice. Passeno, supra; People v Wytcherly, 172 Mich App 213, 220; 431 NW2d 463 (1988).

    Anyone who lived in this area during this incident can’t help but recall the tremendous publicity that it received and the strong dislike it fostered towards Andrew Trombley as well as his friends and family. In my opinion, Trombley was already tried and convicted in the court of public opinion in the Southeast Michigan area especially when witnesses admitted quite openly that they came to name him as the person they had seen only after seeing his face and van and hearing his name on the local news and in the local papers on a constant and daily basis and this very definitely warranted a change of venue. Outside of this area I strongly doubt Andrew Trombley would have been convicted on such flimsy evidence.

    But that leaves us with a final question: If Andrew Trombley didn’t abduct Deanna Seifert, who did? The problem with the whole incident is the idea that the killer walked into the house, grabbed a girl and walked back out without arousing anybody in the house from their slumber. I have so little faith in eyewitness testimony that I could doubt that Deittrick saw a van or man carrying girl at all. Frankly, I find her observations totally dubious. They don’t sound real. The killer would have to search around the house for where the girls were sleeping, enter the bedroom without any of the girls inside waking up. Then stepping over a girl to get to one specific girl. And then carrying her through the house and out to a van and “throw” her into the back without her waking up. Doesn’t seem likely to me at all. So how then did the abduction take place? Has anyone entertained the possibility that Seifert may have left the residence on her own? The fact that her street clothes had been left behind indicates only that she did not intend to leave the McCracken residence but to go back inside after a while. Why would she do this? Any number of reasons—insomnia, boredom, just to see what her neighborhood looked in the wee hours when everybody is sleeping, to see the stars, anything. She’s a kid and kids do things adults might find inexplicable. While outside, someone might have driven by, saw her, called her over to his vehicle and grabbed her.

    Remember the case of Kimberly Alice King. In 1979, coincidentally in virtually the same area that Deanna Seifert lived—Nine Mile Road and Marmon (very close to Blackstone Road), King left the house of her friend where she was spending the night through a window at about 11:30 p.m. to walk all the way down to Gratiot Avenue and has not been seen to this day. Suppose her friend had been asleep when King decided to leave. What would the evidence seem to indicate? That someone came in through a window and abducted a sleeping Kim King but we know for a fact that it did not happen that way. Had we not known that she had left her friend’s house late into the night, who knows what crazy stories “witnesses” would have been telling? People would be asking why a 12-year-old would simply walk off into the night, where would she go? For someone to theorize that she may have decided to head off to the annual Gratiot Cruise would be dismissed as absurd. The Cruise was four miles away—what 12-year-old would decide to walk four miles at 11:30 at night? Kim King, that’s who. She told her friend that she was going to the Gratiot Cruise, left through a window so as not to be seen by the girl’s parents and was promptly swallowed by the night, never to be seen again (and just to drive home the unreliability of eyewitness observations, someone later reported seeing Kim King on a payphone several miles from the home of her friend where she was at the time the sighting occurred). Yes, kids do the darnedest things indeed and it is not at all unreasonable that Deanna Seifert left the McCracken house just to breathe in the night air and was abducted.

  4. #4
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    Bumping case up. 20 years have passed...

  5. #5
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    What did the DNA evidence on the three pubic hairs conclude? Were they Trombleys?
    All I can do is try.

  6. #6
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    I lived in Center Line when this case happened. As a matter of fact, I was also nine years old. This is something that sits with you for the rest of your life. This is the single reason I became a websleuther. Back then we considered our neighborhood to be a "safe" place. Sometimes, we didn't even lock the doors at night. (Could this have also been the case?)
    All I can do is try.

  7. #7
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    I remember this case. I lived in Warren around the same time and was also about the same age. A few months earlier a man tried to abduct me just a mile or two from this same area. Different vehicle and everything though.

    I remember at the time there was absolutely no doubt they got the murderer (Trombley). Weren't there two guys though? Didn't they arrest a couple of people?

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    Your comments make you sound less than objective. You talk about circumstantial evidence as if it should be dismissed, but circumstantial evidence is often strong, compelling evidence—some of the best evidence there is, in fact. This case has both circumstantial evidence and forensic evidence. All of the gyrations and acrobatics you had to go through to try to dismiss the numerous pieces of evidence proves to me that the police got the right perp. The only question in my mind is whether Trombley could have had an accomplice or accomplices who got away.

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    After reading the court appeals document, it doesn't sound like Trombley was involved in this situation. There is nothing concrete that ties him to this.

    Did you read footnote 13??

    ETA: I found this discussion on ws after reading this article:
    http://www.macombdaily.com/governmen...deanna-seifert
    Last edited by starryfive; 05-19-2015 at 10:03 AM. Reason: Add news link

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    Lori menzo sounds a bit odd. Why wasn't she home the night of the abduction?


  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jenstar View Post
    What did the DNA evidence on the three pubic hairs conclude? Were they Trombleys?
    No.//

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by jenstar View Post
    I lived in Center Line when this case happened. As a matter of fact, I was also nine years old. This is something that sits with you for the rest of your life. This is the single reason I became a websleuther. Back then we considered our neighborhood to be a "safe" place. Sometimes, we didn't even lock the doors at night. (Could this have also been the case?)
    No. Denise McCracken told police she locked the doors at 1 am before going to bed.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ven View Post
    I remember this case. I lived in Warren around the same time and was also about the same age. A few months earlier a man tried to abduct me just a mile or two from this same area. Different vehicle and everything though.

    I remember at the time there was absolutely no doubt they got the murderer (Trombley). Weren't there two guys though? Didn't they arrest a couple of people?
    They initially arrested Don Crikon, Trombley's uncle, because he had dropped out of sight and they were convinced he had the girl. The media at the time made it sound as though it was positively confirmed that Crickon had the girl and how important it was that they be found. When they busted him, however, it was obvious that he did not have the girl, never had the girl and had no idea who she even was.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ozoner View Post
    Your comments make you sound less than objective. You talk about circumstantial evidence as if it should be dismissed, but circumstantial evidence is often strong, compelling evidence—some of the best evidence there is, in fact. This case has both circumstantial evidence and forensic evidence. All of the gyrations and acrobatics you had to go through to try to dismiss the numerous pieces of evidence proves to me that the police got the right perp. The only question in my mind is whether Trombley could have had an accomplice or accomplices who got away.
    If this is your idea of airtight evidence, you should resign your membership here.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by starryfive View Post
    After reading the court appeals document, it doesn't sound like Trombley was involved in this situation. There is nothing concrete that ties him to this.
    I knew when they busted Don Crikon only to admit he was not involved that their whole case was a house of cards.

    Did you read footnote 13??
    Unbelievable, isn't it?

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