Archived Story

Family meets with 14-year-old murder suspect

Published 8:57am Monday, March 15, 2010

Niles Daily Star

The family of Dakotah Eliason were at last able to reunite with him Sunday, a week from the day the 14-year-old was arrested for allegedly killing his grandfather, his attorney Lanny Fisher confirmed Sunday afternoon.

“The family, father (Steven Eliason), stepmother and biological mother (Mary Apfel) went and was able to visit with him from 3:30 to 5 p.m.,” Fisher said, adding that they told Eliason they were behind him as he faces charges of open murder.

“They said it went really well,” Fisher said.

Eliason appeared Friday in court during a pre-exam conference before Judge Scott Schofield.

It was the first time his parents were able to see him, though they did not interact and Eliason was only present for a few brief moments.

Later that day, news was released that he was under observation – officials worried he might be a danger to himself.

Fisher said such measures are “standard at this point” and said regular welfare checks were still being administered in Eliason’s case and staff were well aware of the delicacy of the situation.

“What they know s they have a kid accused of this crime,” Fisher said. “They’re watching that he doesn’t hurt himself.”

Eliason is being charged as an adult with open murder for allegedly picking up his grandfather’s gun in the early morning hours of Sunday, March 7 and shooting Miles as he slept on the couch in his home on Niles-Buchanan Road in Niles Township.

Fisher said as of yet, no date could be given as to when a forensic psychological evaluation might take place but said such a measure would first have to be authorized by the presiding judge.

Since the shooting, Fisher said he and the family have had a chance to review two tapes regarding Eliason’s arrest.

“I can tell you there is a tape from the police camera (inside the police car) that’s about 90 minutes long,” Fisher said. That tape takes place during the time Eliason was seated in the back seat of the police cruiser and law enforcement officers were “clearing the scene.”
The other tape is a “one hour long interview at the police station.”

That tape covers questioning by Det. Fabian Suarez of the Michigan State Police of Eliason both with his father present and later, one-on-one.

Both tapes will likely be heard during Eliason’s preliminary exam scheduled for next week. Fisher said he met with the family over the weekend to discuss the contents of those tapes.

Even after seeing them, “they have some questions,” Fisher said of the family.

This week, he plans to visit with his client prior to the preliminary exam.

“My immediate concern is for his well-being,” he said, “and that he understands the process.”

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