BREAKING: Eliason appears in courtPublished 11:19am Friday, March 12, 2010
By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star
With his family behind him, Dakotah Eliason, 14, stood before Judge Scott Schofield this morning for a pre-exam conference inside the courtroom at the Berrien County South County courthouse.
Defense attorney Lanny Fisher is representing Eliason. Also present was Berrien County Prosecutor Arthur Cotter.
Cotter and Fisher asked the court to waive the rule to hold a pre-exam hearing within 14 days of arraignment, rescheduling the hearing for March 22 at 8:30 a.m.
Eliason was arrested Sunday for the alleged murder of his grandfather, Jesse Miles. He faces the possibility of a maximum sentence of life in prison, something Fisher said is weighing heavily on the minds of his client’s family as well as his own.
“Absolutely,” Fisher said. “Absolutely that’s a concern for the family, yes.”
The next step in the case is for the prosecution to show evidence of probable cause, Fisher said, that Jesse Miles, 69, was shot in the early morning hours of Sunday, March 7 at the alleged hand of his grandson.
There was no possible date given on when Eliason might be given a forensic psychological evaluation.
Appearing only for a few moments, Eliason sat quietly before the judge. Fisher said he had been retained just Thursday but that he’d had the chance to meet with his client prior to this morning.
“I was able to go to the juvenile center and meet with him,” he said. Commenting on Eliason’s condition, he added, “I don’t know what’s ‘normal’ for this kind of situation but he seems very withdrawn.”
Though he has been charged with the murder of Miles and court documents reveal that Eliason allegedly told police that he’d “argued with himself” before shooting his grandfather, one thing that has yet to be revealed to anyone – including Eliason’s own parents is what motivated the incident.
“The prosecution and I both have both said none of us are jumping to conclusions,” Fisher said.
He added there were still “a lot of unanswered questions.”
Fisher also said that he, as well as Cotter, believed “this case is pretty much a first of its kind for the county.”
Eliason’s mother Mary Apfel and father Steven Eliason were both present in the courtroom this morning. Neither have had a chance to sit down or speak with their son since he was taken to be lodged at the Berrien County Juvenile Center in St. Joseph; the soonest chance they will have will be this Sunday.
Fisher said despite the magnitude of the situation, the family seemed to be holding up “surprisingly well.”
“Dakotah’s dad is showing so much strength,” he said. “To be in the courtroom for his son at 8:30 in the morning, and then be at the funeral for his father at 10:30 … I can’t imagine a more difficult day for someone.”