Monthly Archives: September 2015

Brothers charged with delivering, manufacturing marijuana

WEST BLOOMFIELD — Seven months after a fire enveloped a house in the 6800 block of Apple Blossom, two men have been arrested for delivering and manufacturing marijuana in the house.

Twenty-six-year-old Joseph Semma and 25-year-old Justin Semma were charged with two-count felonies for delivering and manufacturing 5 to 45 kilograms of marijuana. One count is for 28 pounds of loose marijuana, and the other count is for the 28 mature and 28 immature marijuana plants found in the house, according to West Bloomfield Police Detective Pete Canelopoulos.

The brothers were arraigned in 48th District Court Sept. 10. Joseph Semma received a $10,000 or 10 percent cash/surety bond, and Justin Semma received a $5,000 or 10 percent cash/surety bond.

Neil Rockind, defense attorney for Joseph Semma, said that at this time, not much is known about the allegations.

“After speaking with my client, however, I anticipate a prompt and favorable outcome once the court proceedings get underway. As is our practice, we will let our work in the courtroom speak for itself,” Rockind said.

Justin Semma did not have an attorney on file with the district court at press time.

Fire crews from Fire Station No. 2 arrived at the house at around 9 p.m. Dec. 29, 2014, and found the garage of the approximately 4,000-square-foot house fully involved in the fire. Heavy smoke was reportedly coming from the roof, and the fire had spread to a vehicle parked in the driveway.

Crews from four fire stations responded to the fire, and crew members initially set up operations for an offensive attack. After several explosions occurred, crew members entered into defensive operations. The explosions were originally thought to be caused by fireworks, but after the fire, firefighters found compressed gas cylinders. The structure was presumed to be a total loss.

West Bloomfield Deputy Fire Marshal Byron Turnquist said the fire is still under investigation.

West Bloomfield police officers recovered 80-90 cans of butane from the house, and Canelopoulos said that officers believe the brothers were making marijuana wax. A limited amount of wax was recovered at the house, but “whatever was left was pretty much burned up,” which is why the brothers are not being charged for the wax, Canelopoulos said.

“We know they were making wax, but even making wax, they didn’t purposely set the fire,” Canelopoulos said. “(Wax) is supposed to be very, very potent and very dangerous to make. … When you make this, you have a 50-50 chance of your house catching fire.”

via C&G News

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Police urged to more quickly return biological evidence

SOUTHFIELD (AP) >> A former prosecutor is among those who want Michigan State Police to quickly return biological evidence collected from crime suspects after acquittal.

The agency can store samples containing DNA such as blood for months after a case is resolved, unless a court intervenes, The Detroit News reported. But Neil Rockind, a former assistant Oakland County prosecutor, said police shouldn’t keep biological property.

“We’re starting to see a scaling back of individual rights because the police have such great power and are overreaching,” said Rockind, who runs a Southfield-based firm. “The state of science today is nothing compared to what it will be in two or five years.”

State police spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said biological samples are destroyed two years after they’re collected, but can be kept longer if, for example, prosecutors’ offices request it. Brown said they destroy a blood samples sooner if ordered by a court.

“We retain blood samples for two years because of the potential for retesting and/or additional testing, if ordered by the courts,” Brown said. “The two-year time period provides sufficient time for a case to make it through adjudication.”

The cost of storing the samples is minimal, the agency said.

Rockind was involved in a legal effort to have authorities return the blood sample of a client who was acquitted of a drunken driving charge. He said state police told him his client’s blood samples belonged to the police agency that drew the blood.

An Oakland County judge disagreed and state police released the sample.

“The worry is that they have someone’s DNA and health profile,” Rockind said. “What if the lab mixes up the blood sample? I don’t like the state having that much of a person’s biological property. There is no reason to keep it if the person is acquitted.”

Body fluid samples are not returned to individuals without a court order because that could present a bio-hazard and jeopardize public safety, Michigan State University forensics specialist David Foran said.

Shelli Weisberg, legislative director for the Michigan American Civil Liberties Union, said her organization has been working on the issue of “biological property.” The ACLU was behind efforts to get a provision into law to make sure a person’s DNA is destroyed after the individual is cleared of a crime.

“DNA tells a person’s life story,” Weisberg said.

via Macomb Daily