SAGINAW, MI — Did a Saginaw man defend his home when he fatally shot a potential intruder? Or did he wantonly murder his neighbor while she was outside his home?
Those are the competing theories presented by attorneys during a preliminary examination for 37-year-old Calvin Joshua Jr., who is charged with open murder and felony firearm. The hearing took place the morning of Thursday, March 25, before Saginaw County District Judge A.T. Frank.
Saginaw County Assistant Prosecutor Melissa J. Hoover began the hearing by calling Saginaw Police Officer Alex Mawer to the stand. Mawer testified that in the early morning hours of Oct. 9, he responded to a reported shooting at 2017 Delaware St., a duplex in which Joshua resides in half of.
Mawer arrived to find 48-year-old Stacey D. Johnson outside Joshua’s home, lying on her back in a pool of blood under a window. Joshua was at the scene and told police he had shot the woman, adding the gun he used was in the trunk of his vehicle, Mawer said.
“Mr. Joshua advised me that he had heard some footsteps on the outside of his house and that he heard noises on the roof of his house,” Mawer said. “He advised that he thought he heard a window breaking on the northside of the venue. He said that his blinds were broken there so he could partially see out of the window and that he could see somebody wearing a red shirt and he thought his house was being broken into so he shot out the window approximately five to six times.”
Joshua did not indicate the person outside his home had said anything, Mawer said. He also said the person had not actually gained entry to his house, Mawer said.
Hoover asked Mawer what Joshua told him he did after the shooting.
“He advised me that after he fired the five to six shots out the window that he observed a female laying on the ground, that he did not recognize her,” Mawer said. “He got scared, so he went to the Genesee Street Market where he purchased a Black & Mild and then he called his mother, advised her what happened, and after talking to his mother, he had called 911.”
Police found three spent .22-caliber shell casings inside Joshua’s home, near the window he had fired through, Mawer said.
Under cross-examination by defense attorney Alan A. Crawford, Mawer said Johnson was not wearing shoes when police arrived on scene. Joshua also told Mawer he had seen a woman in his backyard a few days before the shooting.
“He fired those shots while protecting his home from a possible intruder, correct?” Crawford asked Mawer.
“He did not say those exact words,” Mawer said.
After Mawer stepped down, Michigan State Police Detective Trooper Peter Oskvarek took the witness stand. He said investigators determined Johnson lived at 2009 Delaware St., the only residence between hers and Joshua’s being the unoccupied half of Joshua’s duplex.
Oskvarek said he interviewed Joshua at the Saginaw Police Department within a few hours of the shooting, which occurred around 1:30 a.m.
“He informed me that several days prior to the shooting he had been hearing noises,” Oskvarek said. “He said it sounded like footsteps could have been coming from possibly the roof or the attic or just next door. He also indicated he had seen a white female leaving his backyard as he was pulling up to his residence when he was coming home from work. He said she was carrying a small dog and shaking and he thought that was suspicious.”
Joshua said he was sleeping when the noises awoke him just before the shooting, Oskvarek said.
“He said initially that the noises were like footsteps, loud thumping, followed by a light tapping,” Oskvarek said. “He wasn’t sure if it was coming from inside his house or not, so that’s when he grabbed his firearm.”
Joshua said he took his .22-caliber rifle and went through his house to make sure no one was inside. He then looked out his kitchen window, saw a red shirt, and opened fire, Oskvarek said.
Joshua told police he did not know Johnson, Oskvarek said. After the shooting, Joshua was gone from his home for about a half-hour, calling relatives before calling 911, Oskvarek said.
Crawford asked Oskvarek if he has worked home invasion cases in which a burglar cases a house before committing a break-in. The detective replied that he has.
Inside Johnson’s house, police found a small dog, medication prescribed to her, an empty fifth of Crown Royal, and a shoe matching one found in a storm drain between hers and Joshua’s residences, Oskvarek said. Investigators never learned why Johnson was shoeless when they found her, but it appeared she had left her residence with only one shoe on, Oskvarek said.
“We do know she was going through some mental health issues, correct?” Crawford asked.
“Correct,” the detective replied.
A toxicology report indicated Johnson had “quite a lot in her system on this particular day,” Crawford said. Among the psychotropic medication in Johnson’s system quetiapine, an antipsychotic used to treat mental and mood conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and sudden episodes of mania or depression, Crawford said.
Johnson also had fluoxetine in her system, a drug that Crawford said can create confusion, difficultly in concentrating, and memory problems. Asked if he was aware of these side effects, Oskvarek said he was not.
Another drug found in Johnson’s system was trazodone, which Crawford said has a side effect of increased risk of suicidal ideation and behavior. Other substances found in Johnson’s system are used to treat opiate withdrawal and epilepsy, Crawford said.
“We have a woman who is outside of her home at 1 o’clock in the morning with no shoes on and there’s no investigation into why she might have been out there?” Crawford asked Oskvarek
The detective replied that investigators followed up with Johnson’s family, adding they did not have the toxicology report at the time.
After Oskvarek finished testifying, Hoover asked the judge to bind Joshua’s case over to Circuit Court for trial. She said that while Crawford appeared to be mounting a Castle Doctrine defense — which allows residents to use lethal force to protect themselves from intruders — the matter should be decided by a jury. Crawford objected to the bind over, saying the prosecution had not met its burden of establishing probable cause that Joshua had any intent to kill Johnson.
“This is a justified killing,” Crawford said. “You have the right to protect your home. This is one of the most safely guarded things that we have in our Constitution, the home. He felt somebody was breaking in and he protected his home.”
Judge Frank ruled in the prosecution’s favor and bound Joshua’s case over to the higher court. Joshua’s next court date is pending.