Novi District Judge Dennis Powers heard evidence Wednesday in the murder case against an Iraqi war veteran who is accused of shooting a neighbor in a dispute over dogs running loose in their Walled Lake neighborhood.
Powers will hear more testimony next Wednesday in the case against Charles Simkins, 28, and will ultimately decide if the case should go to trial, The Detroit Free Press reports.
Simkins has been charged with “open murder.” Under Michigan law, prosecutors don’t have to specify if they’re seeking a first-degree or second-degree murder conviction and can leave it up to the jury to decide.
Simkins called 911 about 10 p.m. on a snowy night last December to report there had been a shooting. Police later determined that Simkins had shot his neighbor, Edwin Criswell, 45, in the leg after the two had argued over the loose dog. Criswell bled to death on his front porch.
The 7-minute 911 tape was played in an open courtroom Wednesday. On it, Simkins prodded dispatchers to send help quickly.
“He doesn’t look well,” he said at one point. “Send the ambulances!”
During the call, he said that he was just trying to dog and that he hit Criswell in self-defense.
“I just had to hit him and he just kept getting up …” Simkins said at one point. “I was afraid he was going to run and get a gun.”
He admitted under questioning by the 911 operator that he had shot Criswell.
“Ma’am,” he said, “is this an interrogation? I would be calling (expletive) 911 if this wasn’t an emergency.”
According to police, Simkins had a history of letting his dogs run loose. He was trying to retrieve his dogs when he went into Criswell’s yard. The two argued and Simkins struck Criswell, reportedly knocking him to the ground.
Police said Simkins, who served in Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps, then pulled out a handgun and shot Criswell in the leg.If the case goes to trial and Simkins is convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison. He is currently being held without bond in the Oakland County Jail. His attorney, Todd Flood, told the Free Press he intends to seek bond within a week.