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Okemos man's murder trial began this week

The murder trial of a 19-year-old Okemos man began earlier this week in an Ingham County Circuit courtroom. He is charged with open murder in the February stabbing of his sister's boyfriend. The evidence has shown that a fight between the victim and his girlfriend (defendant's sister) is what set the tragic event in motion. The defendant and the victim exchanged increasingly heated text messages in the early morning hours the day of the stabbing. The conflict between the two men began when the defendant's sister told him the victim had assaulted and injured her over lost keys. That is when the victim and defendant began texting each other, insulting and challenging each other to a fight. Transcripts show the defendant asked the victim if he could show up at his apartment, and the victim tauntingly challenged him to do so.

The defendant, allegedly armed with a knife, showed up at the apartment the victim shared with defendant's sister and another roommate. The sister was not present at the apartment, but the roommate witnessed the stabbing and drove the victim to the hospital. The roommate testified that the victim punched the defendant, and then the defendant stabbed him multiple times. It is alleged the defendant then returned to his home where he lived with his parents, showered, and told his father what he had done.

The victim's roommate drove him to the hospital, but it was too late and he ultimately died from the stab wounds. A charge of open murder allows the jury to determine if the defendant is guilty of first- or second-degree murder. The defendant faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole if the jury finds him guilty of first-degree murder, and second-degree murder carries a sentence of any term of years up to life in prison. The defendant's attorney has asserted the stabbing was done in self-defense. The prosecution has already attempted to weaken that claim by pointing out the defendant did not have to go to the victim's apartment, armed with a knife; and according to the roommate-witness, he appeared calm the during the entire incident, even after the act as he left the scene. Police found the knife abandoned near the victim's apartment complex.

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