DETROIT (WWJ) – The three people charged in the so-called Detroit Princess Riverboat shootings over the summer will be in court Friday.
Husband and wife, LaToya Mitchell-Thomas and Michael Thomas are facing nearly 30 charges in the incident that left five people wounded.
Attorney James Galen represents the third person charged, LaDon Richards, who is accused of firing back at the Thomas’ in defense of her family.
“Any human being, I believe, in the same circumstances that my client found herself in, watching three of her family members get shot, trying to do the right thing; she call the police three times, she should have never been charged,” Galen told reporters Thursday. “We’re going to do everything we can to exonerate my client and to walk her home with all charges gone.”
“Law enforcement never sought a warrant for my client,” Galen added. “(Wayne County Prosecutor) Kym L. Worthy’s office took it upon themselves to do investigative subpoenas and Detroit Police Department personnel never asked that my client be arrested.
This afternoon, Worthy released statement to WWJ Newsradio 950 saying her office, “asked Detroit Police to do a follow-up investigation into the incident — re-interviewing all relevant witnesses,” and that “the proper people have been charged.”
The shooting took place following an altercation between two families during a party aboard the Detroit Princess Riverboat in August. The actual gunfire occurred after the boat had docked.
BY ORALANDAR BRAND-WILLIAMS
The Detroit News
Detroit — The lawyer for a woman charged in last year's shooting outside the Detroit Princess riverboat says his client was trying to protect her husband from a mob of people who were stomping and beating him when she fired into the crowd, striking six people.
Latoiya Mitchell-Thomas, a 28-year-old Roseville resident, is on trial for attempted murder and other crimes, including weapons charges, in connection with the shooting incident Aug. 6 that left six people wounded following an argument that began on the Detroit River cruise boat.
The shooting followed the altercation between Mitchell-Thomas' husband, 32-year-old Michael Anthony Thomas, and Audrey Fox, who is related to him through a cousin. Fox also was wounded in the incident.
Under cross-examination by Mitchell-Thomas' lawyer Byron Pitts, Fox admitted that there was a group of her family members waiting for Thomas when the boat docked and a fight later ensued between Thomas and Fox's family.
"Even the sound of gunfire didn't deter them;' Pitts told jurors Tuesday.
"They meant to kill that man. Mrs. Latoiya Mitchell-Thomas was caught in the middle:'
Pitts' remarks followed opening arguments in the trial Tuesday by Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor John Casey who said the night was full of "escalating bad behavior and poor choices:' Casey added Mitchell-Thomas' actions showed an "intent to kill" when she went to her car and got a gun and came back to shoot at the crowd, which included innocent bystanders who had nothing to do with the incident.
"Each one of those victims was a victim of an assault to commit murder," said Casey.
Prosecutors are expected to call about 18-20 witnesses during the trial. No word on how many witnesses the defense will call or whether Mitchell-Thomas will testify.
Michael Thomas, who was charged with felonious assault in the incident, was sentenced in March to two years probation.
A third person, LaDon Richard, Fox's sister, has been charged with shooting Thomas in the back as he sat in the passenger seat of his wife's vehicle.
Richard's trial is expected to begin June 24. She was charged with two counts of assault with intent to murder, assault with intent to do great bodily harm, felonious assault and reckless discharge of a firearm. Jurors were shown a small portion of a surveillance video of the incident.
Testimony in the case continues today.
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One of three people charged in the shooting near the Detroit Princess Riverboat last summer pleaded to a minor charge, and two others face upcoming trial dates.
Michael A. Thomas, 32, of Roseville, was sentenced in March to two years probation with the first six months in the Wayne County Jail after pleading no contest to assault with a dangerous weapon in exchange for dismissal of an assault and battery charge.
Thomas was accused of slapping and striking a woman with an object on the boat, igniting a fight that led to the shooting and wounding of six people Aug. 6 along the river in downtown Detroit.
Thomas around the time of the shooting also was caught selling cocaine in Warren. He was convicted by plea of three counts of delivery or manufacture of less than 50 grams of a controlled substance and two counts of attempting the same offense and was sentenced Nov. 27 by Judge Diane Druzinski of Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens to one to 20 years in prison.
Meanwhile, Thomas’ wife, Latoiya Mitchell-Thomas, 29, faces the most charges in connection with the shooting as she is accused of firing shots into a crowd. Charged with six counts of attempted murder, six counts of two lesser included charges and two weapons charges, she faces a May 6 jury trial in front of Judge Megan Maher-Brennan in Wayne County Circuit Court in Detroit.
Mitchell-Thomas retrieved a gun from her parked vehicle and fired shots into a crowd after the altercation on board, police say.
Thomas was struck in the back by a bullet that police say was fired from the crowd by Ladon Richard, 46, of Detroit, who is a relative of the woman struck by Thomas. Richard is charged with two counts of attempted murder and two counts of two lesser included charges as well as reckless discharge of a weapon causing injury and felony firearm.
Richard’s attorney, James Galen, however, says his client never pulled out a gun and never fired a shot. He said Thomas was struck by a bullet fired by his wife.
“We’re not interested in a plea deal of any kind,” Galen said. “My client maintains her innocence and will take it to trial.”
Richard, who is free after posting 10 percent of a $100,000 bond, faces a separate June 24 jury trial in front of Maher-Brennan.
Galen said he plans to file motions in the case prior to an April 26 pretrial.
By JAMESON COOK
The attorney for a woman who shot six people in a crowd at the Detroit river-front following a riverboat cruise suggested politics trumped the law in prosicutors' decision to criminally charge her.
Byron Pitts, attorney for latoiya Mitchell-Thomas didn't in Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy but said "someone who needs to rum for office" ordered assistants to prosecute someone following heavy media coverage of the shooting.
"This is a political office," Pitts said during closing arguments Friday in Wayne Circuit Court in Detroit. "Nobody wants problems on the riverfront.
"That's not justice. ... This woman should never have been charged and shouldn't be sitting here."
The remarks brought an objection from assistant Wayne prosecutor John Casey, who told Judge Megan Maher Brennan that Pitts should stick to the evidence.
In his rebuttal, Casey told jurors, "Politics didn't walk into a crowd and shoot six people."
The jury Monday will begin deliberating the fate of Mitchell-Thomas, 29, who lived in Warren at the time. She is charged with six counts of attempted murder and two weapons charges for the approximately 1 a.m. Aug. 6 incident in which she reportedly fired the shots in what she says was defense of her husband, Michael Thomas, during a physical altercation following a Detroit Princess Riverboat nighttime cruise. Six people were wounded, three involved in the altercation and three bystanders. The jury could return with lesser assault charges.
Pitts said Mitchell-Thomas was justified because her husband was ambushed by a "lynch mob" and badly beaten — hit, kicked and stomped — after exiting the boat.
"She used deadly force because her husband was facing deadly force," he said.
A sometimes tearful Mitchell-Thomas testified earlier Friday that she feared for her husband's life.
"They was beating the hell out of him," she said. "I thought his life was over. I asked people to stop. They didn't so I started shooting at people on top of him."
But Casey said the severity of the beating was exaggerated. Of the many witnesses, the most objective one, a riverboat employee, said Thomas was effectively defending himself, Casey said.
"Mr. Thomas is moving, he's throwing punches," Casey told jurors. "He was mixing it up all the way through."
"Firing a gun five (sic) times in a crowd of people is never going to be a reasonable decision," he said.
The genesis of the altercation was a prior incident on the boat in which Thomas struck a female acquaintance in the face as part of an ongoing argument.
A witness heard Thomas tell someone on his telephone before he left the boat, "You got my back," that Casey contended was Mitchell-Thomas, although Mitchell-Thomas denied she even had a phone.
Casey refuted Mitchell-Thomas' claim that she went to their parked car to retrieve mace or a crowbar and to her surprise found a gun under the seat. He said she had the gun previously.
Thomas was struck by a bullet in the back after they ran to their vehicle following the shooting. Prosecutors say that shot was fired from the crowd by Ladon Richard, 46, of Detroit, who faces trial in June.
Casey argued that Mitchell-Thomas demonstrated her guilt when she threw the gun out of the vehicle while driving her husband to Detroit Receiving Hospital. He suggested she and her husband also discarded their telephones to discard evidence.
He pointed out she failed to contact police at the hospital and didn't turn herself in for four days afterward.
Pitts said Mitchell-Thomas contacted him the day after the incident. She surrendered to police Aug. 10.
Michael Thomas, 32, was sentenced in March to two years probation, with the first six months in the Wayne County Jail, after pleading no contest to assault with a dangerous weapon in exchange for dismissal of an assault and battery charge.
By Gus Burns | email@example.com
DETROIT — Latoiya Mitchell-Thomas, 29, received what at first sounds like a rather lenient sentence considering she shot five people randomly in a crowd.
But a jury acquitted Mitchell-Thomas of Latoiya Mitchell-Thomas is charged with six counts of assault with intent to murder, six counts of assault with intent to do great bodily harm and six counts of felonious assault.
She was found guilty only of carrying a concealed weapon.
The shooting occurred about 1 a.m. on Aug. 6 of last year after a party on the Riverboat Princess. On board, prosecutors say Mitchell-Thomas's husband, Michael A. Thomas of Roseville, slapped another passenger after an argument.
"It is alleged that once the couple were off the boat and in their car, Ms. Mitchell-Thomas fired into a crowd wounding several people with a hand gun," Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy's office said after the shooting. "It is further alleged that after the shooting by Ms.Mitchell-Thomas had ended and the couple were driving away from the scene, Ms.LaDon Richard, fired a hand gun wounding Mr. Thomas in the back as he sat in the passenger seat."
Thomas received two years probation and six months in jail for a charge of assault with a dangerous weapon. He pleaded no contest.
The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office dropped the charges against Richards, the other shooter.
The incident occurred during the Hot 107.5 "On Deck Sunday" Moonlight Cruise, a recurring event that kicked off about 10:30 p.m. Sunday, billed as a festive, dress-to-impress event featuring a cash bar and musical entertainment.
BY ORALANDAR BRAND-WILLIAMS
The Detroit News
Detroit - Criminal charges were dropped Friday against a Detroit woman accused in a shooting outside the Detroit Princess riverboat last August.
LaDon Richard had been charged with two counts each of assault with intent to murder, assault with intent to do great bodily harm, felonious assault, felony firearm and careless discharge of a firearm causing injury or death in the shooting of Michael Thomas.
During a hearing Friday, Judge Megan Maher Brennan of Wayne County Circuit Court ruled there was insufficient evidence in the case. She also ruled a lower court erred in setting the case for trial.
"The prosecutor did not have even a probable cause to bind her over," James L. Galen Jr.,
Richard's attorney, said Friday. "If the prosecutor is going to file a malicious prosecution, then there is going to be a multimillion (dollar) lawsuit." Richard said she always told the truth. "I spoke honestly from day one," she said Friday. "I did not shoot Mr. Thomas."
Maria Miller, spokeswoman for the Wayn^ County Prosecutor's Office, said "the case is currently being reviewed to determine if the decision will be appealed."
Richard. 46, of Detroit, was accused of shooting Thomas, 32, who allegedly attacked her sister, Audrey Fox, on the boat Aug. 6.
Officials say once off the boat, a brawl broke out and Thomas' 28-year-old wife, Latoiya Mitchell-Thomas, allegedly fired shots into a crowd. Six people, including Fox, were hit.
Mitchell-Thomas' attorney, Byron Pitts, said she was protecting her husband from a crowd that gathered to attack him.
Mitchell-Thomas was charged with six counts of attempted murder and carrying a concealed weapon. She was acquitted earlier this month on the attempted murder charges and convicted on the lesser concealed weapon charge.
Thomas, who was charged with felonious assault, was sentenced in March to two years of probation.
Richard, who has worn a tether for the past nine months as part of her bond condition, said: "I owe all praises to God and my attorney."
Galen said his client was the only innocent defendant. "
Out of three co-defendants two of them ended up with felony convictions and one did not," Galen said. "My client was cleared up of all charges. My client had one thing in mind, to pick her sister up and call police to apprehend Mr. Thomas."
By JAMESON COOK
Criminal charges were dismissed against a Detroit woman who was accused of firing one of seven shots during last summer's shooting following a riverfront cruise.
Judge Megan Maher Brennan dismissed all eight counts Friday against LaDon Richard, 46, during a pretrial hearing in Wayne County Circuit Court in Detroit. She ruled that 36th District Court Judge Shannon Holmes should not have bound the case to circuit court for trial. The dismissals were gained by Clinton Township-based attorney James Galen.
"It's clear as black and white they did not have any evidence against my client to bind her over," Galen said.
"My client did nothing wrong. Nobody saw my client with a gun. Nobody saw my client
`My client did nothing wrong. Nobody saw my client with a gun. Nobody saw my client shoot a gun.'
Attorney for LaDon Richard
Galen accused Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy of retaliating against Richard because she appeared on local TV news shows weeks after the shooting to demand an arrest in the case.
Latoiya Thomas-Mitchell was charged with six counts of attempted murder and other charges for wounding six people but was acquitted of all but a concealed weapons charge following a trial in early May.
"This was nothing more than retaliation against my client ... for going to the media and demanding justice," he said.
Worthy's spokeswoman, Maria Miller, did not respond to a request for comment on Galen's allegations but said in a written statement, "The case is currently being reviewed to determine if the decision will be appealed."
Richard was accused of shooting Latoiya Thomas-Mitchell's husband, Michael Thomas, in the back after he fled with his wife to their parked vehicle near the docking area of the Princess Riverboat, where Latoiya had reportedly fired six shots to defend her husband.
But Galen contended that Thomas-Mitchell sho her own husband when she shot into a group including people beating her husband in the deck area.
Byron Pitts, Latoiya Thomas-Mitchell's attorney, disagreed, saying that Thomas was shot in the vehicle.
"There is no evidence he was shot in the deck area," he said. "There's no trail of blood from the deck to the vehicle." He noted the vehicle's back window was shot out. But Galen said that could've have happened any number of ways.
Pitts said he believes there is other evidence implicating Richard, but Galen said 490 pages of transcripts of the district court preliminary examination failed to provide evidence.
A preliminary exam is a probable cause hearing. The ruling, barring a reversal on appeal, means only two minor criminal charges will result from the shooting near Hart Plaza.
The incident spawned from an altercation between Michael Thomas and Audrey Fox on the boat during the cruise in which Thomas struck her in the face with an object.
Richard, Fox's sister, was not on the boat but drove there from her home after Fox called her to pick her up because of the incident, Galen said. Richard, friends of some of the people who were shot, called 911 five times on the way, he said.
Thomas pleaded guilty to assault with a dangerous weapon and was sentenced to two years probation with the first six months in jail.
Mitchell-Thomas is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday for conviction of carrying a concealed weapon. Pitts said he will seek probation, noting she has no prior criminal record.
Galen said he plans to sue Thomas-Mitchell, Thomas and the company that operates Princess Riverboat on behalf of five wounded victims, including Fox. He threatened to sue Worthy for malicious prosecution if she appeals Maher's decision.