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Posted on Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Deputies investigating whether homicide suspect and Detroit road rage shooting are linked

By Kyle Feldscher

Previous story: Suspect in shooting death had pleaded guilty in armed robbery case 4 days earlier

Investigators still are determining whether there’s a link between a man charged in the killing of Brandon Charles and the court case in which he was supposed to testify hours after his death.


Avantis Parker

Courtesy of the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office

Avantis Parker, 21, of Northville, was charged Wednesday with open murder, being a felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a firearm during commission of a felony and carrying a concealed weapon. The charges stem from the death of 28-year-old Charles, who was shot Jan. 29 in the 600 block of Calder Avenue in Ypsilanti Township.

Sgt. Geoffrey Fox, of the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office, could not confirm whether deputies are searching for another suspect in the case.

“That aspect is something we’re still looking into,” he said. “Have we confirmed anything, as to other suspects? No. We’re still looking if there’s a connection to the road rage incident.”

Charles was set to testify on Jan. 30 in a road rage shooting that took place early Jan. 1. After leaving the Detroit MGM Grand Casino at 3:10 a.m., Charles and his girlfriend were involved in a car accident with a Ford Expedition.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for BrandonCharles_crop.jpg

Brandon Charles

The Expedition followed Charles’ Land Rover down the Lodge Freeway and then onto Interstate 94. At I-94 and Junction, the Expedition pulled alongside the Land Rover, shooting Charles once and his girlfriend nine times.

Willie Lee Wimberly, of Trenton, and Steve Smith-Rush, of Inkster, were charged in that case. The two men were still free on bond Wednesday afternoon. Wimberly was released Jan. 21 on a $250,000 cash bond and Smith-Rush was released Jan. 8 on a 10 percent of $10,000 bond.

Michigan State Police Lt. Michael Shaw was not available Wednesday to speak about whether Wimberly and Smith-Rush were still being investigated in Charles’ death.

A preliminary exam for the road rage case was set for the morning of Jan. 30 in Wayne County, but was postponed after Charles was found dead in his vehicle. According to police, Charles was shot multiple times in the torso.

It remains unclear who actually pulled the trigger — Fox would not say Parker was the one who fired the fatal shots. When asked if Parker was being charged as the shooter or if he was an accomplice to the act, Fox said “I can’t speak to that right now.”

“With the charges that he’s been arraigned on, we’ve proven that one or the other obviously applies,” Fox said. “Or, he wouldn’t have been charged with murder.”

Charles was visiting a friend at the Calder Avenue home that night. Multiple 911 calls reported shots being fired at 9:45 p.m. Jan. 29.

Parker is being held without bond in the Washtenaw County Jail and has a preliminary exam scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Feb. 19 at the Washtenaw County Service Center in Pittsfield Township.

Charles' death was just four days after Parker pleaded no contest to two felonies and pleaded guilty to another in the robbery of a pizza delivery driver in Ypsilanti Township in April. He pleaded no contest to assault with intent to rob while armed and armed robbery, and pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm during commission of a felony. He was scheduled to be sentenced on April 17.

Family members who spoke to at the arraignment said Parker was innocent. Todd Perkins, one of Parker’s attorneys, said he was not prepared to comment Wednesday because he had not been given evidence in the case from the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office. He said that process has been started.

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


Sassy girl13

Sun, Feb 17, 2013 : 5:11 p.m.

I wonder if his millionaire step- father will bail avantis out this time with all his money. Avantis should have been in jail for his other felony .


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 7:04 a.m.

Looks guilty to a bit dark, but you can still tell.


Sat, Feb 9, 2013 : 3:33 a.m.

I think the judges have decided that is it not the place for one culture to interfere with the dispute resolution practices of another culture.


Fri, Feb 8, 2013 : 1:27 a.m.

Avantis is a Masters Degree Candidate from Jackson State University. Please do not confuse his involvement in this issue as an indicator of his character, I am sure he is a true scholar and a fine man. He is just mis understood, and really a person you might want to have watch your children!!


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 8:42 p.m.

All of this foolishness has to stop. We are one big region and we have better things to worry about. I'm sick and tired of it. Washtenaw, Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties seriously we need to get it together

Kyle Feldscher

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 6:20 p.m.

Magistrate Elisha Fink was the one who set Parker's bond at $25,000. He was bonded out of jail before the first preliminary exam hearing in the case. Brown elected not to remand Parker after his pleas.


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 7:21 p.m.

I understand... Personally I view Mr. Parker as a dangerous individual, and I don't think he should have been a bond in the first place. I mean the police shook a gun out of a blanket that he dove for. I just don't get why he was ever let go. It's all very sad.

Kyle Feldscher

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 7:02 p.m.

The prosecution asked Brown to remand him after his plea. It's rare that this happens - most of the time, court is not like TV where someone will plead guilty and then be cuffed and brought to prison right away. Unless someone does something to violate the conditions of their bond, people usually remain on bond until they are sentenced. After they're sentenced, they're remanded to prison or whatever it may be. Brown went along with this usual situation and allowed Parker to remain on bond.


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 6:46 p.m.

So on May 2, 2012 when Parker bonded out, Magistrate Elisha Fink set that. But four days ago when he pled guilty, Brown let him go?


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 6:07 p.m.

It makes me sick to my stomach that after pleading GUILTY to robbing the pizza man and attempting to shoot the police that judge brown would not only post bond but still let him walk the streets. They say their isn't enough room in the washtenaw county jail but they sure do keep collevting bonds for hardend criminals, so where is all that money while these theifs and murderers are out here with us civilians. And just a side note the two men who shot at Mr.Charles and his fiancé on New Year's Eve have posted bond out of the 36th district court in Detroit. They are both free on bond right now. Free to kill. Shame on our system!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My thoughts and prayers are with the Charles family.

Kyle Feldscher

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 6:21 p.m.

He actually pleaded no contest to robbing the pizza man. He pleaded guilty to having a firearm during the felony.


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 2:20 p.m.

I'd like to wipe that smirk off of his face.


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

It is so sad that this is what some have become. None of this at all makes any sense to take a life for such foolishness. We have one young man dead and at least one other spending a long time in prison . Now really does this make any sense whatsoever? What was proven here other than pure stupidity? God help us all.