Monday, December 31, 2012

Defendant may have sealed fate with 3 words

Caroline Hocking-Sullivan may have sealed her fate – four assault convictions – with three words she uttered on the witness stand during her November trial in Macomb Circuit Court.
To her demise, Hocking-Sullivan blurted out, “I’m a cutter,” when discussing her past mental issues and suicide attempts.
That scant sentence revealed a lot about her state of mind in general the night she was accused of attacking four Sterling Heights police officers in the living room of her home in May 2011. She was shot and wounded by an Officer Maureen Merpi.
She had been distraught in the hours before and was under the influence of alcohol and too much prescription medication. Her sister, a Shelby Township resident, called police, reporting a potential overdose and/or suicide.
Assistant prosecutor Steve Fox said Hocking-Sullivan charged at Merpi with a knife raised above her head. Hocking-Sullivan denied she held a knife and was shot after she merely stood up from the couch.
The knife in question was moved at the scene after the incident to the kitchen sink. A second knife, which Hocking-Sullivan said she typically kept for protection since she was raped in 1986, was under a pillow on the couch.
Defense attorney Tim Barkovic contended during the trial that police could have planted the second knife to justify the shooting.
But his client’s, “I’m a cutter,” comment lended credence to the cops’ claim that she had a second knife all along.
Giving it more weight was that it was unsolicited and seemed so off-hand; she couldn’t seem to resist providing a glimpse into her world.
Hocking-Sullivan has been the victim of some unfortunate circumstances in her life and probably doesn’t deserve prison. She was shot, after all. And I question the jury’s decision to convict her of assaulting all four police officers. I don’t think all four were in real danger.
But the law is the law, and Lady Justice is blindfolded.
It will be interesting to see the extent of Judge Mary Chrzanowski’s sympathy at Hocking-Sullivan’s Jan. 10 sentencing.


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