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Posted on Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

Trenton man arrested in fatal shooting of victim who was set to testify against him

By John Counts


Willie Lee Wimberly

Courtesy of WCSO

A Trenton man was arrested Tuesday in the shooting death of an Ypsilanti Township man who was set to testify against him.

Willie Lee Wimberly, 30, was arraigned Tuesday on charges of first-degree murder in connection with the Jan. 29 homicide of Brandon Charles, 28.

Charles was found shot to death in a parked car in the 600 block of Calder Avenue in Ypsilanti Township a day before he was set to testify against Wimberly and Steve Smith-Rush, of Inkster, in a Detroit road rage shooting. Avantis Parker, 21, was charged last week with open murder in connection with Charles' death.

Sgt. Geoff Fox of the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office said Parker and Wimberly were acquaintances. Wimberly is also charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree premeditated murder, which means he is accused of planning Charles' death with Parker, Fox said.

Wimberly would have known who Charles was from the court proceedings in the Detroit shooting, according to police. 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.

Fox said Smith-Rush is not a suspect in the fatal shooting, though investigators are continuing to conduct interviews with anyone involved.

Wimberly is accused of shooting at Charles and Charles' girlfriend on Interstate 94 at Junction on Jan. 1 after the two parties were involved in a traffic accident at a nearby casino, state police have said.

Charles was shot once. The woman in the car was shot nine times.

Wimberly was arrested in Westland by the U.S. Marshals Detroit Fugitive Apprehension Team Tuesday. He was arraigned from the Washtenaw County Jail Tuesday on charges of first-degree premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree premeditated murder, felony firearm, felon in possession of a firearm and carrying a concealed weapon.

Wimberly was given no bond. His next court date is scheduled for Feb. 19 at 8:30 a.m.

Parker, of Northville, was charged Feb. 6 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.

Fox did not say which of the two men is believed to have pulled the trigger.

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.

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



Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 12:46 a.m.

This is cray


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 6:37 p.m.

I hope the family of Mr Charles receives justice for the loss of their loved one. These young man need to be kept off the street and stopped from causing harm to anyone else


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 6:57 a.m.

These people ruin can always tell what kind of people live in an area just by going into a gas station, if there is bullet resistant glass surrounding the clerk....need I say more?


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 3:25 p.m.

With so many felons being let out on bail, there needs to be a investigation on why. is it because our jails are so full now?.. Maybe we need to build a few more so judges can throw them in jail as they should be.. instead of being told there is no room. because you all know, they have to have topnotch accommodations. Federal and state mandates the number of inmates each jail can have.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 4:35 a.m.

Shoot two people with 10 bullets and a genius judge lets you out on bond. How many bullets does it have to be judge to get remanded?


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 2:08 a.m.

What, no bond this time?


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 12:57 a.m.

I don't know much about guns, but is it safe for me to assume that he ran out of bullets after he shot Mr. Charles one time and his girl friend nine times? That his clip held a total of ten bullets, otherwise he would have fired more.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 12:35 a.m.

If judges became civilly liable everytime a person they release on a low bond kills someone, this sort of thing will cease real fast. ,

Bruce W

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 12:07 a.m.

Our police are overworked due to ignorance of judges, police spend hours, sometimes days and weeks trying to find out who committed a crime and then a judge spends very little time looking at their record and then sends the criminals back into our neighborhoods to commit more or worse crimes. If someone is found guilty in court they should go directly to prison, not back on the streets.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 6:48 p.m.

getyourstorystraightfirst, The state's prisons are not overcrowded. Michigan's prison population is at a 5-year low right now. The state has closed a number of correctional facilities since 2007, and has even offered to take other states' prisoners (for a fee) to keep the prisons here open/operational. Whatever the problem is with getting convicted felons off the street, it isn't prison overcrowding.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 3:41 a.m.

i think some of this also stems from the prisons being overcrowded. might be a good idea to consider sending only violent offenders to prison & quit crowding our prisons with non-violent offenders.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 11:48 p.m.

Wimberly & Smith-Rush pretty much tried to kill Mr.Charles and his fiancé on New Years Eve. You don't shoot someone nine times while driving down I-94 and not be attempting to kill them. And Parker, allegedly, robbed a pizza man and would have shot the police if they hadn't tackled him... I had no idea you could try to kill someone and get out on bond. Blows my mind!!!!!


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 11:34 p.m.

So he pleaded no contest to two, guilty to another last April. Then assault, possession of a firearm and wasn't going to be sentenced until NEXT April??? I guess he just wasn't bad enough to bother with until now.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 10:40 p.m.

maybe no bond should've been considered before a man lost his life :(


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 10:08 p.m.

The magistrate/judge that let Wimberly and Smith/Rush out on bond after they shot at Mr.Charles and his fiancé should be held responsible for the death of Mr. Charles. Sounds to me like they thought the life of a man wasn't worth any more than a $250,000 bond. Our justice system is a disgrace. Michigan should be ashamed.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 4:33 a.m.

You will never be a " judge "... You make too much common sense.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 10:30 p.m.

Not just Parker getting a bond, but Wimberly and Smith-Rush. If Wimdberly hadn't benn out on bond he never could have recruted Parker to assist him in Killing Mr.Charles.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 10:16 p.m.

I wondered that too seeing as how Parker was pleading guilty to other violent felonies.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 9:49 p.m.

Too bad the judge can't be held accountable for allowing him to be free to kill man who was set to testify against him.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 9:41 p.m.

And they wonder why everyone is arming themselves to the teeth. One has to only watch the news at 5 pm and the first 10-15 news reports are about murder,rape,robbery.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 10:51 p.m.

justcurious you don't have to be helpless, that is your choice. Like wearing a seatbelt.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 10:38 p.m.

That's we I quit watching commercial television, especially local news. Nothing but wears on you, especially when you feel so helpless to do anything about it.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 9:39 p.m.

Lock him up and throw away the key.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 9:35 p.m.

With Parker's admitted laundry list of felonies with a weapon, how could anyone think he'd remain law-abiding on the streets for 4 months while awaiting sentencing? Apparently a judge could, and did.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 9:20 p.m.

I'm shocked, SHOCKED it was this guy. I was dying to speculate initially, but you know how is about speculation. I wonder how many suspects the police had to track down before coming to this guy. Hmm.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 9:16 p.m.

Looks like Detroit crime has come to Washtenaw County.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 8:59 p.m.

The stupidity of humans knows no bounds.

Superior Twp voter

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 8:46 p.m.

Told you so - "a hit" (but my comment was deleted by staff).

Kyle Mattson

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 9:06 p.m.

I'll take that as a compliment Zhuk. Follow the guidelines as you won't be deleted, it's pretty simple.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 9:04 p.m.

They are much better at deleting comments than at editing.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 8:29 p.m.

Life without parole. see ya..


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 8:29 p.m.

It seems that Occam's Razor plays out once again.

John of Saline

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 8:26 p.m.

Have fun in Marquette. I hear it's cold in the winter up there.

Molly Jean

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 5:10 p.m.

I used to live there, it's freezing. Maybe they'll let him outside during a snowstorm...


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 8:25 p.m.

Finally no bail. Wow! I cannot believe it took the death of this young man for a Judge to see how violent this man was.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 8:23 p.m.

Hard to understand how the previous shootings and now death of this man may have been precipitated by a road rage incident. If indeed these men are responsible for his death then I hope they don't see freedom for a very long time.