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Posted on Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 5:30 p.m.

Scio Township man pleads guilty to killing Gary Lillie while driving drunk last year

By Kyle Feldscher

Kevin Warren will go to prison after he pleaded guilty to driving drunk and killing veterans advocate Gary Lillie with his Chevrolet Avalanche during an August 2011 incident.

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Kevin Warren

Warren pleaded guilty Thursday to operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing death. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to drop a charge of leaving the scene of an accident causing death. As a part of the plea agreement, Warren and his attorney John Shea agreed with Washtenaw County Assistant Prosecutor Brenda Taylor that Warren would serve a prison sentence.

How long of a prison sentence is yet to be determined — Warren will be sentenced at 2 p.m. Jan. 11. He faces a maximum of 15 years in prison.

Bernard Lillie, Gary Lillie’s brother, said after the hearing the family was sympathetic to Warren. Bernard Lillie said Warren appeared to be a good person who made a mistake, but a mistake for which he should do the maximum amount of prison time.

“We’re pleased that Brenda Taylor, the prosecutor, was able to procure a guilty plea,” he said, “and that there wasn’t a jury trial, which would have been traumatic for all of us to go through.”

Gary Lillie was 70 years old when he was struck and killed on Aug. 4, 2011. He was walking along Marshall Road near Baker Road when Warren’s Chevrolet Avalanche struck him, sending him into a ditch on the side of the road. He died instantly.

According to a tape played at one of the preliminary exams in the case, Warren told police he was reaching for his cellphone on the floor of his vehicle when he felt the collision.

Warren allegedly drove home before calling police and being told to return to the scene, where he was arrested. Blood tests after Warren’s arrest showed he had a blood alcohol level of .12 percent, above Michigan’s legal limit of .08 percent. He had been drinking at a golf course earlier in the day, he told a sheriff's deputy that night.

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Gary Lillie

Shea and Warren both declined to comment on Thursday’s hearing at the Washtenaw County Trial Court.

Bernard Lillie pointed to the work done by Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office Deputy Robert Lohse, who was the lead investigator on the case. He said Lohse worked hard and the family was very pleased by his effort, believing he went above and beyond what was required.

"It was pretty amazing, all the things he did," Bernard Lillie said.

Thursday’s hearing marked the resolution of a case that’s taken more than a year to move forward. Warren had three trial dates rescheduled and five final pretrial hearings, including Thursday's. Family members were teary eyed outside the courtroom Thursday, with many saying they felt relieved to see Warren plead guilty to the charge.

Gary Lillie was a major force in veterans’ organizations in Washtenaw County. Bernard Lillie said getting to know how much his brother meant to other people was one of the most emotional parts of the grieving process for him.

“He was a big loss to the community and to us,” he said.

Warren remains free on bond until his sentencing hearing.

Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 12:23 a.m.

First, I want to relay my prayers and condolences to the Gary Lille family. It was tragic and unfortunate what transpired that fateful evening. I too live off Marshall Rd. I walk on a regular basis during the day. With very limited speed limit signs posted, I literally fear that someday I may be hit and my fears are shared by other regular walkers on the road and this is during the DAY! That being said, I find it unbelievable that anyone would even think of walking on Marshall Rd at NIGHT. While there is some light where Mr. Lille was killed, the lighting is spotty at best and the fact he walked from his home in pitch dark on Marshall Rd. at all is beyond comprehension. This does not justify by any means Mr. Warren's actions. He needs to be held accountable for the egregious act inflicted on Mr. Lille and his family. However, to sentence Mr. Warren to the maximum sentence as the Lille family has asked for, is unwarranted given Mr. Warren's unblemished record. He made a tragic mistake but to sentence him to the maximum term is highly unjustified given the circumstances no matter how tragic the consequences and how popular the victim. Jay


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 11:19 p.m.

Have you driven down Marshall Road at 11:30 p.m.? Don't judge until you do. It is NOT a road that you feel safe walking on even in the day. We live out that way and were looking forward to walking on the beautiful natural beauty road, until we saw the reality. We never allowed our sons to walk or ride their bikes on Marshall because the speed limit is 50. I am terrified to drive down Marshall at night now. What if someone decides that walking down an unlit country road at 11:30 is a good idea, and I have the misfortune of hitting them? Human loss is tragic and consequences must be faced, but I wonder what is "fair" versus vengeful? I understand from what I've read in this paper that Kevin has never been in trouble with the law, holds down a full time job, is a tax-paying contributing member of society. As a tax payer I want to make sure that my taxes are used appropriately. Will society be safer with him behind bars? I think not, but requiring classes, volunteer hours, probation and paying retribution would make sense. I prefer that overcrowded prisons be filled with people who are currently a danger to society.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 11:41 p.m.

This is a very true assessment of what we know, according to the news, of the situation.


Sat, Nov 3, 2012 : 8:45 a.m.

It will be interesting to see how long it will take to get a sentencing hearing date... and how many postponements. If I were a member of the family, I'd keep a watchful eye. Mr. Warren seems to have some pull and resources, based on how long it took to get to this point. Best of luck on this.

Lynn Liston

Sat, Nov 3, 2012 : 9:03 p.m.

The trial postponements were not due to the defendant. The first date conflicted with a big felony cause in Detroit Federal court in which his attorney was involved, the second was because a key witness was unavailable, the third was due to a conflict with another trial in Federal court in which his attorney is also involved, and at the same time defense was considering the plea bargain on offer. We don't expect any further delays now that the plea has been entered, and waiting until January 11 makes it easier on the family and friends to make their plans to attend. It's been a very frustrating 15 months but much of that was due to the way our legal systems work and not the fault of any one person. We're just grateful for this milestone and looking forward to the healing that will come.

Merritt Lillie

Sat, Nov 3, 2012 : 12:33 p.m.

FormerMichRes, At the Fifth Final pretrial held two 1/2 weeks ago, the sentencing date was originally set for December 15th. That date was changed and the Sixth final pretrial this past Thursday. That date is now set for January 11, 2013. This allows our family, as well as other important people in Gary's life the time to make arrangements to come to the sentencing in the hopes that we can all finally close this chapter. I honestly do not feel that we will see any further delays.

Lynn Liston

Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

I am one of the bereaved. As Ms. Merritt Lillie has stated, the family has no say in what the sentence will be. That determination is up to the court system, and is subject to several sentencing guidelines in place in Michigan. The plea bargain was worked out in detail between the Prosecutor's Office and the Defense attorney, and we accept it as the first step toward a fair and just resolution to this case. We hope for justice for Gary, a resolution that honors his memory and recognizes the meaning and value of his efforts as a Veterans Advocate. We hope for fairness, remembering that TWO families have suffered greatly during this ordeal.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

At one time in Michigan, the blood alcohol level had to be at least .15 percent for a drunk driving charge. A blood alcohol level of .10 percent was needed to charge a person with impaired driving.

Merritt Lillie

Sat, Nov 3, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.

Justcurious, Thank God the laws have changed. They have evolved as we as a society have also evolved. Science has proven that at certain blood alcohol levels, a person is no longer able to safely operate a vehicle.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

That was then and this is now. Thank God we are finally taking drunk driving offenses seriously and not just brushing them off. If you choose to drive after drinking, then you are responsible for what happens as a result.

Kitty O'Brien

Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 4:14 a.m.

There are no winners here.

Merritt Lillie

Sat, Nov 3, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

Kitty, You are absolutely correct. Nothing will bring my Uncle Gary back. Also, Mr. Warren's family has had to endure the pain and agony of dealing with this tragic mistake. That is part of the reason we used the term, "Sympathetic to Warren"-we mean to his family in general as well.

Dan r OBryan

Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 1:59 a.m.

his sentence will be from 1-15 years for manslaughter. im sure a plea agreement was made, now a pre sentence investigator ,will look into his past history and make recommendations to the judge for sentence manslaughter carries 0-15 years ,2 years likely be the minimum sentence by the statue of the law...2-15 years will more then likely be his sentence

Dan r OBryan

Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 1:56 a.m.

the sentence will be from 1-15 years for manslaughter. im sure a plea agreement was made, no a pre sentence investigator ,will look into pat history and make recommendations to the judge for sentence manslaughter carries 0-15 years ,2 years likely be the minimum sentence by the statue of the law for that offense 2-15 years

Merritt Lillie

Sat, Nov 3, 2012 : 12:27 p.m.

Dan Obyran and Alex Brown, I may be able to answer of few of your questions, or at least clarify a few things. We did agree to a plea deal. We offered that he plea to only one charge, "Drunk Driving, causing and accident, causing death." The plea agreement has nothing to do with the sentence the judge chooses to impose. It was the hope of our family that if we offered a plea deal we could avoid an further heartache and pain by enduring the gruesome details once again. Also, if you read the article, you would have learned that we have had to endure an astronomical, atypical amount of delays. The pre-trial alone was delayed 6 times. This past Thursdays "final pre-trial" was our SIXTH. We just want to be able to close this legal chapter so that we can complete our grieving process and begin moving forward with our lives. I do believe that you are both on the right track in thinking we will see a shorter sentence, as opposed to the maximum, but that is the judges decision, not anyone else.

Alex Brown

Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 12:52 p.m.

In addition to the statutory minimum and maximum sentence, there are sentencing "Guidelines" I am sure the prosecutor took into consideration when negotiating the plea agreement and the judge will use when pronouncing the sentence. Those guidelines take into consideration the things Dan mentioned. I would think a year or two is likely provided Mr. Warren has a clean record and since the Lillie family is "Sympathetic to Warren".


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 1:16 a.m.

Not knowing anything about either party (and why should that matter?) what good does it do to send the man to prison? "Sending a message" to others does not really work; our penalties are not deterrents to crime, and especially not to this kind of mishap. It's not like none of us have ever let ourselves be distracted while driving. And when I was young, 0.12 was practically legal.

Merritt Lillie

Sat, Nov 3, 2012 : 12:16 p.m.

Genboy, Mr. Warren is not being sentenced for the purpose of "sending a message." The way the American justice system works is that when someone commits a felony offense of this latitude, prison time is a part of the sanction for the act that was committed. It is the law, and the judicial system has a responsibility to uphold it. This is not a simple case in which someone chose to drive after drinking. A man was killed as a result. Due to the fact this mistake made by Mr. Warren ended in the death of an innocent person, the law says that prison time is the appropriate sanction for that action.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

So what are you saying? should this man walk free? should there be no consequences to his irresponsible behavior? NONSENSE.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 2:20 a.m.

I challenge your contention that "our penalties are not deterrents to crime..." If you know this for a fact, please provide some supporting evidence. Speaking for myself, I would never drink and drive, mostly because I want to minimize the risk of inflicting harm on anyone (including myself), but also because I would not want to spend time in jail or prison for a momentary pleasure (ingestion of alcohol) that could easily be deferred to my arrival home. I think many of us feel similarly. Simply because these penalties do not deter ALL alcohol-related offenses in no way means that they do not deter SOME of the offenses.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 9:43 p.m.

If Gary's brother and family feel that justice was done, then we should accept that. I do hope the sentence will reflect the fact that a wonderful man is gone forever because of someone's decision to drink and drive. Please don't ignore people who leave a bar or home drunk and get in their car. Do something about it.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 3:09 a.m.

justcurious I do not agree with you very often.BUT I think all of your comments here were spot on.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 12:41 a.m.

Mr. Lillie, Gary will never be forgotten. He was someone who made a difference to so many people in this world. His life had meaning and his work will live on in those he touched. I'm sorry for all you have been through.

Merritt Lillie

Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 12:02 a.m.

I am the family of Gary. We have no say in the sentence the judge will impose upon Mr. Warren. We have faith that the sentence will be appropriate. The leagal proceedings have been an arduous process for our family. As you can see by this article, there have been so many hearings and delays. We all just want justice for Gary and his honor to be upheld through the process. It did come out in the court proceedings that Mr. Warren has no prior record, so I am sure that will be a factor that the judge considers. When we mention we are sympathetic to him, it is just us saying that we have found forgiveness in our hearts for the tragic mistake that he made on that August night.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 11:10 p.m.

johnnya2, the family was not the determining factor in what the sentence was. I cannot believe that you tried to make a connection between this case and the Jerry Sandusky case. To me that is ridiculous. I do not know if Mr. Warren had previous drunk driving offenses because it was not brought out in any of the articles. But I do know that many people do drive after "having a few beers" and it ends in tragedy sometimes. That is what happened here.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 10:59 p.m.

The victims family should not be the determining factor in what a sentence is. Sometimes the REST of us need to be protected from killers. Based on your assessment, if the family of Jerry Sanduskys victims were ok with a 2 year sentence, that would suffice. Crime is punishment meted by society, NOT the victims.