The charge against a man who struck and killed a 5-year-old boy on a bicycle in Warren was leveled with second degree murder on Tuesday following a preliminary examination in court.
Maurice Sumler, 22, of Detroit, who was free after posting a $ 250,000 bond, was arrested after Judge Michael Chupa charged Sumler with leaving the scene of a fatal accident for murder and his $ 600,000 bail.
The decisions followed a preliminary examination which showed Sumler was driving at least 59 mph and had smoked marijuana when he collided with Preston Singleton with his Jeep on June 29 at the intersection of Stephens Road and Van Dyke, near the border of the center line.
Sumler told police he tries not to be late for work at the Stellantis plant in Sterling Heights because he believes he will be fired.
Preston’s father Christopher Singleton, who attended the hearing, later said he was satisfied with Chupa’s decisions based on requests from Macomb County Deputy District Attorney Kumar Palepu.
“Nothing will bring my son back, but it’s closer to what we were looking for in justice,” Singleton said. “It’s a little frustrating that he only spent three days in jail before posting bail. I’m glad he’s back. We got some satisfaction out of it.
Singleton, who donned a hoodie with Preston’s photos on it, and Preston’s mother Tiffany Draper said they were both surprised and disappointed at the lack of remorse displayed by Sumler during his interview with the police which was broadcast on video in the courtroom and when video of the accident was shown in court.
“He showed no remorse,” Draper said. “When they (the police) asked him what he should have done differently, the only thing he said was that he wished he had taken another path.”
Preston was struck at dusk around 9:40 p.m. as he was cycling across Van Dyke Avenue with his older cousin, who was also on a bicycle, and his 10-year-old sister who was walking.
Rachael Draper, Preston’s aunt, accompanied the children as they returned to her house next door to Preston’s grandfather’s house. She believed the light was red when they started to cross, but the video shows, and Palepu pointed out, that the light was always green for traffic as she walked from the sidewalk towards Van Dyke.
Draper, who said she had walked through this intersection several times before with children, testified that when she was in the middle of the road, she saw lighthouses three blocks away.
“I told the kids it was good to cross,” she said. “I moved my hand and told the children to hurry and cross the road.
While she was in the middle of the road, with the children behind her, the light turned yellow. After the light turned red, Preston’s sister moved ahead of the others as the two boys continued on their bikes past Draper, the video shows. Video shows Preston’s cousin stopped on his bike as Preston continued.
She said the next thing she knew was Preston was missing. She saw her shoe on the road.
“I started to scream. I started running, looking everywhere, ”she said.
Video shows he was struck in the right lane.
She saw him come out of the roadway in front of a 7-Eleven store. A crash reconstruction expert testified that Preston, who weighed 36 pounds, was thrown about 175 feet from the point of impact.
“I sat next to him,” she said. “I screamed and screamed for help. I told them (the other two children) to go get someone, to get help. People started screaming and running towards him.
Preston suffered skull fractures, broken ribs, broken legs and a lacerated liver and lungs, according to the autopsy report, Palepu said.
Sumler continued to drive but pulled into the Taco Bell parking lot on Van Dyke south of Metropolitan Parkway because a tire on his Jeep was shredded and the bumper was dragging. He ran to the nearby auto plant to “get to work,” then left to arrange for a tow truck to pick up his vehicle and call his girlfriend, according to Palepu.
Sterling Heights Police found him at a nearby gas station and arrested him.
Sumler told police he thought he had hit a deer, but during the interview he finally admitted to seeing a group of “five or six people” on the road as he approached the intersection. and thought to drive between two of them, Palepu said.
Pleading for the murder charge, Palepu told the judge: “He made the conscious decision to cross a crosswalk full of children.”
Sumler told police “it could have been worse” and “asked why children were on the road,” according to Palepu.
Where there was no sign of a brake on the road, a police technician testified.
Sumler said he smoked marijuana before leaving his home in northeast Detroit. Singleton said he doesn’t blame Singleton’s aunt.
“There will always be what ifs; things could have been different, ”he said, adding that since the incident he had spent time at the intersection monitoring traffic.
“It’s a crazy intersection,” he said. “There’s a lot going on.”
Palepu said in an interview that he believed the Jeep’s speed caught Draper and the kids off guard.
“I think she (the Jeep) passed everyone faster than anyone could imagine,” he said.
Sumler was originally charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident responsible, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. He now faces the charge of second degree murder, carrying a sentence of life imprisonment, and reckless driving causing death, a maximum charge of 15 years.
About three weeks after the incident, a memorial event took place and this part of Stephens was renamed Preston Singleton Way.
Sumler’s next court date is a Nov. 29 arraignment in Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens.