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Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

The trial of the alleged killer of Detroit’s Samantha Woll begins

By meerna Jun12,2024

DETROIT – The trial of a Detroit man accused of assaulting and killing prominent Jewish community leader Samantha Woll is scheduled to begin Tuesday afternoon.

The jury was seated on Tuesday, June 11 in the murder trial of Michael Jackson-Bolanos, who is accused of fatally stabbing Woll in her Detroit apartment in October 2023. The trial was expected to begin with opening statements around 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

You can watch live in the video player above. We will be streaming the trial on ClickOnDetroit and our Local 4+ streaming app.

Jackson-Bolanos, a Detroit man in his 20s, was charged in December with murder, first-degree home invasion, lying to police and later first-degree murder in connection with Woll’s killing. He is accused of stabbing Woll, 40, to death in her home in Lafayette Park, a neighborhood east of downtown Detroit, on Oct. 21, 2023.

Michael Manuel Jackson-Bolanos (WDIV)

A neighbor found Woll’s body on the ground outside her home hours after the killing.

Police arrested and charged Jackson-Bolanos in December after weeks of investigation and pressure from the community. Police believe Jackson-Bolanos killed Woll during a home invasion and that the two did not know each other.

Jackson-Bolanos went on trial in January. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

A look at what happened

Samantha Woll, who also followed Sam, was found stabbed to death on the morning of Saturday, October 21, 2023, outside her Detroit apartment. A witness found Woll lying on the ground and unresponsive around 6:30 a.m. that day.

First responders arrived on scene and found Woll had been stabbed several times. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities later said she was stabbed eight times, including several times in the neck.

Police say a “trail of blood” led from where Woll’s body was found to her home. Police believe the woman was attacked in her home sometime after 12:30 p.m. when she returned home from a wedding and stumbled outside after the attack.

Investigators confirmed that there were no signs of forced entry into Woll’s home. She was found with her wallet and phone on her person. Sources say Woll suffered no defensive wounds, but police have not confirmed those details.

Samantha Wol (WDIV)

During the investigation, authorities repeatedly confirmed there was no evidence to show Woll’s murder was a hate crime.

Prosecutors present a timeline of events

During Jackson-Bolanos’ preliminary hearing on Jan. 23, prosecutors reviewed video footage and showed how Detroit police linked Michael Jackson-Bolanos to Woll’s Lafayette Park neighborhood on the night of her murder.

One video, starting at 12:30 a.m. on Oct. 21, showed a person leaving a downtown Detroit apartment. Within hours, police tracked down that person – believed to be Jackson-Bolanos – through dozens of video sources, placing him near the crime scene and back to the Midtown apartment.

The defense says it is unclear whether the person captured in the videos is actually Michael Jackson-Bolanos. Prosecutors also presented cellphone evidence pointing to Jackson-Bolanos’ whereabouts.

—> Click here to see a detailed timeline of Jackson-Bolanos’ stay.

The jacket is key evidence

As part of the homicide investigation, Jackson-Bolanos’ apartment on West Alexandrine Street in Midtown was searched, but authorities reportedly found no DNA or fingerprints belonging to Jackson-Bolanos.

Investigators found a black North Face jacket in the apartment, possibly the same one captured on surveillance cameras, as well as electronics. The jacket was confiscated and found to have stains on the sleeves and front. Experts checked the stains on the jacket along with Woll’s blood samples and were absolutely certain that the blood on the jacket belonged to Woll.

Jackson-Bolanos arrest

Police arrested Jackson-Bolanos in Utica in December 2023. Law enforcement observed the man and on the day of his arrest located him driving his car – a 2007 Dodge Charger – in Macomb County.

The Wayne County Attorney’s Office announced charges against Jackson-Bolanos on December 13, 2023. In addition to the murder and now first-degree murder charges, the man also faces charges of home invasion and lying to a peace officer.

A murder charge occurs when someone accused of committing a violent crime is charged with murder if committing the crime results in someone’s death.

Brian Brown, Jackson-Bolanos’ defense attorney, said his client denies all allegations against him. Brown said he believes Jackson-Bolanos “may be a victim of circumstance,” especially after a previous arrest in November that resulted in no charges.

In November 2023, a man was arrested in western Michigan and released without charge a few days later. The person’s identity has not been released, but the Wayne County prosecutor confirmed it was not Jackson-Bolanos.

Brown said he believed police had once again arrested the wrong person.

About Woll

Woll served as president of the board of directors of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue near Capitol Park in Detroit and was well known in the community. She was also a former campaign staffer for Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and a former aide to Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin.

Woll was remembered as a supporter of people and people-centered movements, and her interfaith work, including by Muslim support groups, was recognized as a supporter of people and people-centered movements.

“Our family is sincerely grateful to the hard-working women and men of the DPD Homicide Task Force who worked non-stop for weeks to thoroughly investigate this tragic crime. We strongly believe that thanks to their commitment and tireless efforts, they were able to successfully solve this senseless crime. We can’t thank them enough.

“We would also like to thank everyone for their support and prayers. Samantha’s death is an unspeakable tragedy that has affected not only her family and friends, but also those who knew her as a dedicated community activist, leader and bridge builder. She was loved deeply and her light spread far and wide. We kindly ask that the media respect our privacy during this difficult time.”

Statement from the Woll family, December 2023

Copyright 2024 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit – All rights reserved.

By meerna

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