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Beline Obeid

Witness: Suspect traded stolen goods for crack

Myron Williams, charged with first-degree murder in the death of Sabrina Gianino, listens to testimony during the second week of his trial in Detroit. photo by Kathy Ryan.

March 20, 2014
DETROIT — Testimony continued this week in the trial of Myron Williams, who has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Grosse Pointe Park resident Sabrina Gianino.

Williams, 43, is charged with killing Gianino the night of May 15 in her flat on Wayburn. In addition to first-degree murder charges, Williams also is charged with felony murder and unarmed robbery. Gianino, 36, was strangled.

Williams, who lived next door to the victim, was arrested by Grosse Pointe Park police after a drug dealer, Atonio "Montana" Mitchell, told police Williams came to his house on Alter Road the night of the murder and traded a laptop computer belonging to Gianino for crack cocaine. Mitchell also told police Williams left a cellphone and an iPod, later identified as belonging to Gianino, at his house.

Wayne County Prosecutor Molly Kettler centered her questioning of several witnesses around the cellphone.

A Grosse Pointe Park public safety officer testified that on the night of the murder, once it was determined items were missing from Gianino's flat and one of those items was her cellphone, police began calling the number in an effort to locate the phone.

According to testimony from Mitchell, while the cellphone was in his possession, he answered a call, and was told by the caller that the phone was part of a serious police matter. Mitchell agreed to meet the police at a gas station at Mack and Alter to return the phone to them.

He testified that after he thought about it, he decided not to meet the police as he did not want to become involved in a police matter. He gave the phone to a friend, who returned it a short time later, saying it belonged to a woman who had been murdered.

He then gave the phone to a friend, Gerald Miller, who then gave the phone to his son. The son, Brandon Hines, testified earlier that he had scrolled through the contacts listed on the phone, saw one identified as "Mom," and called the number. The phone was answered by Gianino's mother, Verona Gianino, who agreed to meet Hines at a drug store at Mack and Alter to pick up the phone.

Instead, Mrs. Gianino notified Grosse Pointe Park police, who picked up Hines near the meeting spot. Hines was taken into custody, leaving his car at the scene. A short time later, Hines' father and Mitchell drove by, saw Hines' car being loaded on a flatbed truck and stopped. They were taken into custody by a Grosse Pointe Park public safety officer at the scene.

Mitchell told police that a customer he knew only as TD had given him the items, and identified Williams from a picture supplied by police.

He said the man he knew as TD was a regular customer, and had come by his house "every other day" for several months. He said he told police, when they were looking for Williams, to stay near his house, as "eventually he will come back."

Defense attorney Charles Longstreet II cross examined the witness, with tempers often flaring on both sides.

"Why do you keep asking me the same questions?" Mitchell asked Longstreet, and oftentimes responded with "I don't recall" to several of Longstreet's questions.

On Tuesday, Williams wife, Quashaunda, took the stand. She said she, the defendant, and their four children lived in the attic of a flat rented by her husband's sister, Tracey Davis, on Wayburn next door to the flat where Gianino was murdered.

Under questioning from Kettler, she said on the night Gianino was murdered, her sister-in-law woke her to tell her that the police had been at her door. She got up and stayed up the rest of the night, gathering with neighbors out on the street while the police were at the scene. She said her husband remained in the attic and did not come outside.

She also testified that night she put her children to bed and "dozed off" listening to music with headphones at approximately 9:45 p.m. She said she was awakened later that night when she heard her husband returning to the attic. She said she heard the front door close and heard her husband come up the stairs. When she asked him where he had been, he told her he had been to the bathroom, but she testified she didn't believe him because he normally used a jar in the attic to relieve himself. She also testified he appeared to be in a daze and was sweaty, which she said was the way he appeared after he had used crack cocaine.

She testified earlier her husband used crack cocaine since before they were married, noting they marked their 10-year anniversary last week.

"He was addicted to crack before my time," she said.

The prosecution's case is expected to continue the entire week, with the focus being on Williams' effort to retrieve his wallet from the Wayne County jail's property room.

In the preliminary examination, it was revealed that Williams had in his wallet an Abercrombie & Fitch gift card that had belonged to the victim. Williams asked several people to help him retrieve the wallet, some of whom informed police. Police then obtained a search warrant for the wallet and discovered the gift card.

On Tuesday, Williams' wife read several letters she received from Williams that were written to her and their children. He told her that he was going to be released soon from jail and that he was going directly to rehab when he was released. He also said that he was attending Bible study in the jail and asked his wife to pray for him.

Under cross examination from Longstreet, Williams' wife acknowledged her husband had a Chase card through which he obtained his unemployment benefits, which was referenced in the letters as being in his wallet.

Longstreet also pointed out a Facebook page posting done by his client's wife where she posted a picture of a news truck in front of her house the night of the murder, and said she had not heard anything.

She also testified that she did not know where her husband was between 10 p.m. and midnight the night of the murder, but Longstreet challenged her, citing testimony she gave in May to the Wayne County prosecutor where she said he was in the attic with her at that time.

Williams' wife also read a letter in court where he expressed anger at the Grosse Pointe Park police for making his identity known to the media and that he wanted to file a lawsuit against the police and asked her to call attorney Geoffrey Fieger to take his case.

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