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Posted on Wed, May 22, 2013 : 5:55 p.m.

Trial date set for man accused in West Willow homicide

By John Counts


Avantis Parker and Willie Wimberly

Courtesy of WCSO

The 30-year-old Trenton man accused of killing 29-year-old Brandon Charles in Ypsilanti Township last January appeared briefly Wednesday in the Washtenaw County Trial Court where he had a trial date set for Sept. 30.

Willie Lee Wimberly is charged with fatally shooting Charles, who was set to testify against Wimberly the next day in a Wayne County case related to an earlier shooting.

Avantis Parker, also accused of homicide in the case, was on Wednesday's docket but had to be rescheduled because he was not in court. Prosecutors forget to file a writ to transport him to the courtroom from prison, where Parker is serving up to 22 years on an unrelated armed robbery case.

Wimberly expressed a willingness to get to trial as quickly as possible. His attorney, Raymond Burkett, objected to the September date, saying his client wished to get before a jury on the charges in July or August.

"We are asking for an immediate trial," said Burkett.

Judge Archie Brown stuck by the Sept. 30 date for Wimberly, saying that's the earliest the court's schedule could allow it.

There are also "evidentiary issues" with the case, Brown said, and both the prosecution and defense will have to wait until some of the evidence is tested by state police before a trial can begin.

Wimberly had a final pretrial hearing set for Sept. 18. Parker has his pretrial hearing rescheduled for June 5.

The two men are accused of killing Charles in the driveway of a home in the 600 block of Calder Avenue in Ypsilanti Township’s West Willow neighborhood on Jan. 29. Wimberly had offered Charles $10,000 to not testify against him in a Jan. 1 shooting and, when Charles asked for twice as much, the two men fatally shot him, according to testimony.

Wimberly and Steven Smith-Rush were charged with shooting Charles and his girlfriend during a Jan. 1 road rage incident in Detroit. Wimberly was scheduled to be in court for a preliminary exam on the morning on Jan. 30 and was free on a $250,000 bond.

Parker is charged with open murder, being a felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, carrying a concealed weapon, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and intimidating a witness.

Wimberly faces charges of open murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, being a felon in possession of a firearm, carrying a concealed weapon in a motor vehicle and intimidating a witness.

Both men face a maximum of life in prison.

Wimberly remains in jail with no bond.



Fri, May 24, 2013 : 3:25 p.m.

Waaaaaaaaaaa.... Quit crying about West Willow.... It IS.....what it is... While the stats may say crime is down in the Willow it's still the most unsafe neighborhood in the entire area........


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 2:40 a.m.

Why is West Willow the only neighborhood listed in articles when a crime occurs? Why not just say Ypsilanti Township or the street names? Saying West Willow in the headline has nothing to do with this story. When a major crime happens in another neighborhood does the .com have the same standards for listing that area by the common neighborhood name. Disgusting.

Bruce W

Sat, May 25, 2013 : 3:24 p.m.

West Willow seems to attract crime from other places, like a magnet. West Willow might be getting better but it has been SO bad for over twenty years that even with less crime than it has had in the past that it is still the worst area around Ypsilanti. What really is Disgusting is the "Don't Snitch" mentality of the residents of West Willow, don't help the police make West Willow a better place to live and get rid of criminals, help hide the criminals so they can keep on being criminals until they get caught by the police. The WSC won't send in just one officer because the citizens of West Willow act like animals and will attack an officer rather than helping the officer clean up their community. If you want West Willow to be known as a great place to live, make it a great place, help the police get rid of criminals so people can walk the streets at night without worrying about becoming a victim of crime. GET INVOLVED in making WW better.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 2:52 p.m.

The murder happened in West Willow, its irrelevant whether or not the victim or suspects lived there. When there was a rapist terrorizing Ann Arbor articles read "The Ann Arbor Rapist", its about the location of the crime not the residence of the alleged perpertrators or victims. Sadly, West Willow over the years has had a lot of criminal activity that made headline news. I don't think this is a slam on West Willow in this case.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 3:29 a.m.

Especially considering this community has done an awesome job decreasing crime in the area with the work of their Neighborhood Association. It would be nice and fair if Ann would stop placing in the headlines about this crime "The West Willow Murder/Homicide" so to speak when neither the suspects or victim lived in the West Willow Community.