Grondin under house arrest after posting $500,000 bond
LAPEER — After seven hours and four witnesses of testimony, there’s still no answer on whether statements reportedly made by Kenneth C. “Casey” Grondin III to police last November will be admitted in court when he goes to trial in July.
Grondin, a Lapeer 19-year-old, was charged with open murder in November in connection with the shooting death of his girlfriend, 20-year-old Andrea Lorraine Eilber, Nov. 14 in the basement of her aunt’s Kings Mill Road home in Mayfield Township.
Last month Grondin was released after his family posted a $500,000 cash bond. He’s now under house arrest and wearing a GPS tether at his mother’s Lapeer Township home. In setting bond last month, Circuit Court Judge Nick Holowka ordered Grondin not to use phones, computers or social media while out on bond.
Friday Holowka spent the day listening to police and the Grondin family’s corporate attorney being questioned by defense attorney Michael Manley and Lapeer County Assistant Prosecutor Steve Beattie.
Manley maintains that Michigan State Police should have stopped questioning Grondin as soon as they were informed a lawyer was trying to locate him. Police investigators counter that Grondin was with them voluntarily and that he never asked for a lawyer to be present during questioning.
Friday was a combined Walker and Bender hearing.
Based on a 1965 court case, a Walker hearing focuses on whether a suspect was properly advised of his Miranda rights and whether statements made by the defendant were voluntarily and intelligently made.
A Bender hearing focuses on whether police improperly continued to question a suspect after being notified the suspect had legal representation.
If Manley’s challenges are successful, virtually none of what Grondin reportedly said to investigators during the nearly 13 hours he was with Michigan State Police Nov. 16 will ever be heard by a juror.
Holowka adjourned the hearing at 4:30 p.m. Friday with Detectives Mark Reaves and Ron Ainsley yet to be heard from.
With Manley now on vacation, the two sides won’t be back in front of Holowka until April 12. Lapeer County Prosecutor Byron Konschuh said Holowka has already asked both sides to provide written briefs following the detectives’ testimony, so it’s unlikely the judge will render a ruling before the end of April or the first of May.
That, however, said Konschuh, is unlikely to effect the scheduled July 10 trial date. Holowka, he said, “likes to keep cases moving along.”
Armando Velardo, a Mount Clemens attorney who has represented Carl J. Grondin, the younger Grondin’s grandfather and one of the founders of Grondins Hair Center, for more than two decades, told the court that the elder Grondin called him at 11:25 a.m. November 16 asking for his help.
Under questioning from Manley, Velardo said that during a 22-minute phone call with Kenneth C. Grondin III’s mother, April, he told MSP Sgt. Brian Reece that he wanted to speak with the youth, but was told he couldn’t because Grondin was being “detained.”
While police maintain that Grondin was detained and not under arrest, Velardo offered that that was a difference without a distinction.
MSP Sgt. Lynne Walker, who was working the desk at the state police post in Lapeer the day Grondin was taken into custody later testified that when she tried to call Det./Sgt. Mark Reaves for Velardo and April Grondin later in the day, she heard Reaves say “Hello, hello,” before the line went dead. Subsequent calls to Reaves’ cell phone, said Walker, went straight to voice mail.
Velardo told the court Walker told him that Reaves “hung up on me.”
The lawyer also testified that on his way to Lapeer, he had his office send an e-mail and a fax trying to “stop what I thought was an unlawful interview.”
In trying to locate the younger Grondin, Velardo said, “I felt I was being jerked around for three hours.” He said he made more than 20 phone calls to Michigan State Police Posts trying to reach Grondin.
Sgt. Brian Reece told the court he advised Grondin of his Miranda rights at 7:10 a.m. and Genesee County Sheriff’s Dept. Detective David Dwyre, who conducted what was refereed to as an “enhanced interview” at the 69th District Court building in Flint, said he again gave Grondin his Miranda rights and had him read and sign consent forms at 2:08 p.m., at the beginning of an hour-and-half interview.
Dwyre described Grondin as an educated person who was not intoxicated and did not appear childlike during the interview. However, he did describe the interview as a “psychologically intense time.”
Manley noted it was an interview that came at the end of a long day during which Grondin had virtually noting to eat or drink.
He suggested that statements reportedly made to Reaves during a two-and-a-half hour interview following Dwyre’s questioning were made simply to tell Reaves what he wanted to hear.