Murder sentences affirmed

Published 6:40 pm Saturday, March 12, 2005

By Staff
ST. JOSEPH - The Michigan Court of Appeals Tuesday affirmed the convictions and sentences of Raymond Lee Kyle for the first-degree premeditated murder of Charles Taylor; the second-degree murder of Alice Palmer; the voluntary manslaughter of Sheila Taylor; two counts of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder of two of Ms. Taylor's children; arson of a dwelling house; and possession of a firearm in commission of a felony in Berrien County.
Kyle killed the three adults in the Taylor home, set the home on fire and left Taylor's three children locked in the trunk of a car near the burning house.
In affirming Kyle's convictions, the Court of Appeals rejected his claim that the evidence was insufficient to establish the elements of the crimes, including that he was the person who committed them.
The court also rules that one of the children's statements to the police was properly admitted as impeachment - not substantive - evidence, and that the trial court did not err in so instructing the jury.
The Court of Appeals found that the trial court properly allowed the prosecutor to dismiss two prospective African-American jurors, one based on her failure to report prior convictions on her juror questionnaire and the other based on her and her relatives' numerous contacts with the criminal justice system.
The court found that any possible error in the trial court's practice of disallowing the attorneys' re-questioning of witnesses after questions by the jurors had been answered did not affect the defendant's right of confrontation.
The trial court properly denied the defendant's motion to suppress his confession, which was voluntary and admissible at trial.
Finally, the Court of Appeals rejected the defendant's numerous claims of misconduct by the prosecutor and of ineffective assistance of trial counsel.