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Posted on Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

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

By Kyle Feldscher


Avantis Parker

Courtesy of the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office

A man charged with murder in the shooting death of an Ypsilanti Township resident last week had pleaded guilty to one felony and no contest to two others four days before the shooting, court records show.

Avantis Dominique Parker, 21, of Northville, was arraigned at the Washtenaw County Jail Wednesday on a charge of open murder and three other felonies in the death of Brandon Charles Jan. 29. He also faces one charge each of open murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, being a felon in possession of a firearm and carrying a concealed weapon. He’s being held in the jail without bond.

Family members who attended the arraignment said Parker is innocent. His attorney entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf.

Charles, 28, was found dead in the driver’s seat of a Ford sedan at 10 p.m. Jan. 29 in the 600 block of Calder Avenue in the West Willow neighborhood of Ypsilanti Township. He died of multiple gunshot wounds to his torso just hours before he was scheduled to testify in a criminal case in Detroit.

It's unknown if there is another suspect in the shooting that deputies are searching for, or if Parker or someone else actually fired the shots that killed Charles.

On Jan. 25, four days before the shooting, Parker, 20, pleaded no contest to assault with intent to rob while armed and armed robbery and pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, according to court records. One count of armed robbery will be dismissed at sentencing, records show. Those charges stemmed from an incident in Ypsilanti Township on April 24, when he was accused of pulling a handgun on a pizza delivery driver.

Police tackled Parker before he was able to get to a gun hidden in a blanket after being confronted about the incident.

Parker and his then-girlfriend Sophie Peak were both charged in that case. Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office deputies alleged Parker pointed a gun at a man who was delivering a pizza Peak had ordered. The delivery driver backed away from Parker, who fled the area before deputies were called, investigators said.

When deputies came to the scene, Peak came out of her home and claimed the pizza from the driver, deputies said. She did not pay for the pizza, and the driver and deputies went to her door to get the money, deputies said.

Parker answered the door and deputies began questioning him about the incident. During questioning, Parker lunged for a blanket, and deputies tackled him and shook out the blanket, causing a gun to fall out, deputies said.

Parker was held in the Washtenaw County Jail but was released on May 2 after paying a $25,000 surety bond. He’s been free on bond since then.

According to court documents, Parker was scheduled to turn himself in at the Washtenaw County Jail on March 1 to start serving a jail sentence. He’s scheduled to be formally sentenced in that case at 9 a.m. on April 17.

Thumbnail image for BrandonCharles_crop.jpg

Brandon Charles

Parker was arrested in connection with Charles’ death on Tuesday, deputies said.

Parker was mostly silent during Wednesday's arraignment, allowing his attorneys to do most of the talking. Most of what the attorneys said was inaudible to the general public watching the video arraignment in the Washtenaw County Service Center.

Todd Perkins, one of Parker's attorneys, said he's not received information on the case from prosecutors to this point and declined to comment on the case at this point.

Charles was set to testify Jan. 30 in a road rage incident in Detroit on New Year’s Day. Police said Charles and his girlfriend were shot multiple times after the vehicle they were in collided with a vehicle in which Willie Lee Wimberly and Steven Deshaun Smith-Rush were riding. As of last week, police were still investigating any link between that shooting and Charles’ death.

It’s unclear if Parker is in any way connected to that shooting.

Charles’ funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at the C&H Community Home for Funerals, Lucille’s Memorial Chapel. The chapel is at 411 S. Adams St. in Ypsilanti. There will not be a public visitation held prior to the funeral. Charles will be buried at the United Memorial Gardens in Plymouth. Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.


Kyle Feldscher

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 6:19 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.

Kyle Feldscher

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 1:11 p.m.

Judge Brown did preside over his case at the Washtenaw County Trial Court, but, again, he was out of jail by that time.

Kyle Feldscher

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 1:09 p.m.

For those asking for the judge's name, I would have to go back and look at the court records. He had two different judges during the preliminary exam stage and it was a district court judge. So, to everyone asking: No, it was not Melinda Morris who was presiding over the case when he was released on bond. I'll check and get back to you all about who the magistrate was that set the bond.


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 9:01 a.m.

What's really messed up is Willie and Steven are out on bond for attempting to kill Mr.Charles and his girl friend on New Year's Eve. Free to kill anyone just like Avantis was let free to roam around on bond while being accused of very violent crimes! Our system is so very wrong! My thoughts and prayers are with the Charles family.


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 8:57 a.m.

This fellow dove for a gun while being questioned by police. He was ready to use that gun again against law enforcement officers. He pled guilty to serious felony charges. This was a plea bargain from more severe charges. He obviously was a danger and showed those tendencies. He didn't surrender quietly. Why did Judge Archie Brown (this story was on the Detroit news stations and they indicated it was Judge Brown) let this man out on bail? Somewhere, someone needs to articulate the legal rationale supported by the fact-finding that led to a decision to release this fellow on bail even after the prosecutors asked he be remanded into custody. This fellow is presumed innocent for now and has a trial pending but the courts have always had the authority to decide someone was too dangerous to release. Was Judge Brown's decision the result of current case, statutory laws? If so, those laws need to be revisited. Did Judge Brown act subjectively? If so, the electorate needs to remember this case when it comes time for re-election and ask Judge Brown. to account for his decision. This is why people want to be armed. They see the justice system and the police as reactionary. Responding only after the worst has happened. It needn't be that way, but it is and that needs to change.


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 8:05 a.m.

So.....He was out on bond for robbing a pizza man and attempting to shoot the police from May 2 until 4 days ago where he pled guilt to those charges from that incident. He was then let go again and murdered Mr.Charles. Great job Judge Archie Brown. Seems to me like Washtenaw County thinks $25,000 is worth more to them than Mr.Charles, or any one's life. It's a shame.


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 3:54 a.m.

Na na na na, Na na na na, yeah heh heh goodbye.


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 3:38 a.m.

"Parker was held in the Washtenaw County Jail but was released on May 2 after paying a $25,000 surety bond. He's been free on bond since then." Nuff said.


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 2:14 a.m.

Who was the judge who allowed him to post bond? Melinda Morris?


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 7:26 a.m.

Melinda is Innocent! She Retired on 31 Jan 2012. Bring it On! Give Us the Name of the Rascal!!!

Peter Eckstein

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 1:04 a.m.

Is there no edict from above that will break this reporter of the habit of violating one of the first rules of journalism--using the passive voice? It is at best a half truth to say that this man "was released" after paying a surety bond. The full truth would be that someone--a judge, a cop, a court official--released him or ordered him released. I don't know who it was, but don't you think the public has a right to know?


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 12:14 a.m.

and why was he let out after pleading to the charges??? go washtenaw court system!!!!


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 12:07 a.m.

They will let gun toting felons out,, but keep in jail men who can't or won't pay child support. ( this does not mean I think they need to get away with not paying) . Seems there needs to be some serious digging into which of our elected judges allow this. Come on do an in depth article on this!!.


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 11:24 p.m.

For all you folks trying to make an "anti-gun control" argument, please just stop. Recently proposed gun regulations are not specifically designed to stop this kind of crime. They're intended to stop mass shootings like Sandy Hook. You are either trying to blur the issues or you've fallen for the propaganda created by people who want to profit from the sale of high capacity magazines and assault rifles. Crimes like this have been going on for decades without any additional proposed legislation. I don't read anywhere in this article where they said the victim died from being shot with an assault rifle. A life is a life regardless so I'm not saying this specific incident isn't important or doesn't need to be addressed. However, just because proposed gun control legislation wouldn't prevent THIS crime doesn't mean it won't help prevent the types of crimes that inspired the legislation. It also doesn't mean that lawmakers should decide to punt on addressing the problem.


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 10:54 a.m.

A2 citizen: correlation does not mean causation. Basic rule of research.


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 8:48 a.m.

You're right. There is a lot of confusion. On both sides of the issue. For instance, look at how the NY Daily News talks about rises in gun caused deaths to push a gun control agenda. That's a case where control advocates are using yellow journalism to frighten people into thinking these kinds of crimes will be stopped by more gun laws. In this case, this fellow broke all sorts of laws. Looked like he was ready to break more by trying to use one on the cops. If I really thought gun laws would work, I'd support it. But, the real problem is a permissive society that is more concerned about self-esteem, glamour, fame (rather infamy), and "bling" or other possessions rather than morality and responsibility.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 5:54 a.m.

I don't think any of the proposed laws would have done anything about the Sandy Hook tragedy. Just reactionary posturing by politicians who don't have the ability or the intelligence to meaningfully address society's problems.


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 4:50 a.m.

RE: " They're intended to stop mass shootings like Sandy Hook." You mean like the laws mandating "gun free zones" don't you? Just pointing out: anti-gun types are the people behind such laws creating "gun free zones" - which are invisible, aren't enforceable except for those situations where an armed attacker ARRIVES in a gun free zone and KILLS ANYONE THEY WANT TO. No, gun owners are tired of begin slandered FOR FOLLOWING ALL THE LAWS while anti-gun laws like "gun free zones" turn out to AID AND ABET MASS MURDERS. You are an accessory of mass murder -on THIS count and one other: you support government (presidents and lawmakers) who pass laws to further penalize and endanger gun owners as if they were Jews back in 1939 Nazi Germany. Because anti-gun advocates are accessories to mass murder, I don't think I'm going to listen to your "explanations" about how your pet gun control measures are directed at mass killings, etc. I stopped writing this to send another donation to the NRA Institute for Legislative Action ("ILA"). Anti-gun advocates have done such a good job of smearing & slandering gun owners that (1) they've created the biggest gun & ammo purchase surge in history and (2) have caused the average gun owner to call on their lawmakers to abandon any and all gun control legislation - with the threat that there will be far fewer Democrat lawmakers in state houses and in the U.S. Congress. The NRA is slow and not too convincing... but thanks for helping raise a groundswell of response against gun control. :-)


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 4:10 a.m.

Mike Roe vs Wade was decided in 1973, after which 1 million abortions occurred in 1975, with 1.5 million per year throughout most of the 80's. Murders peaked in the early 90's at about 24,500 per year and has declined to about 14,500 per year. Do you think there is a cause-effect relationship?


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 2:41 a.m.

Even the death penalty does not seem to deter those bent on murder. If you are afraid of scary guns, don't own one. You can call the police and hope they get there in time. That's your choice, don't impose it upon me. Your are probably pro-choice which in my book is murder. You don't want to hear from pro-lifers and we don't want to hear from anti-guns folks like yourself. Liberals seem to think it is OK to impose your world upon the conservatives while at the same time claiming the title of being most "accepting". Quite hypocritical if you ask me, but I'm sure you won't. More children are aborted than will ever be murdered by psychopaths with whatever kind of weapon they choose. Under your desire to control guns only the criminals will have them. Under my desire to not have abortions there will be a lot more children in this world. I like the sounds of my desried scenario better.

Steven Taylor

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 2:24 a.m.

Sarcasm... You missed it.. Or yer about a quart low Bryan. Either way.. further 'gun control' won't stop incidences like sandy hook.. CT has some of the toughest gun control laws in the country.. Either way, the sandy hook shooter commited several crimes to gain possession of those weapons (Like KILL his mom).


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 11:42 p.m.

Well said.


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 10:53 p.m.

Very good example of why "gun control" does not have the desired effect. Let me get this straight; a man, convicted of armed robbery, who pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm during the commission of said armed robbery, who previously dove for a gun when police tried to question him on pointing a gun at someone, was let free to go, four days before allegedly killing someone...using a gun to do it. Quite honestly, with the system broken that bad, gun control is completely pointless.


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 11:53 p.m.

The only gun control that would work if ALL people-expect police--did not have a right to have guns. Its hopeless right now.


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 9:38 p.m.

I am still confused about this? Did he try to rob Brandon or did he just come up to his car and shot him? Just senseless. He should of never been on the street period!!


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 11:51 p.m.

Yeah, lets just wait and see what the evidence is. I didn't follow it too well either. Let him have his day in court before hanging him

Linda Peck

Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 9:33 p.m.

Another tragic example of how our court system is failing us. It makes no sense at all to me, the actions of the Judge in this case, whoever she is.


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 9:17 p.m.

Does anyone else feel like the judge should provide some kind of justification for letting him out? Or at the very least should be named. I'm actually speechless. I mean, explain this to Brandon's family in a way that makes sense.


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 12:17 a.m.

Except for those assault and possession charges.


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 11:49 p.m.

gee, he hasn't be found guilty just yet, lets wait until he is. Everybody arrested for a crime isn't always guilty

Jay Thomas

Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 8:27 p.m.

He tried to pull a gun on the police arresting him over the armed robbery of the pizza driver and some judge let him out... to kill. Absolutely amazing. :(

One eyed man

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 12:14 a.m.

I can hear the prosecutor telling the cops/detectives working the cases: well he didn't shoot the pizza guy & he never actually got the gun he lunged for & we aren't sure if he actually shot the victim..... And then the judge saying, he's so young, and maybe he can be re habilitated, this could just be a phase he's going through. Uggggghhhhh. It's so tiresome


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 9:46 p.m.

The Judge should go to prison over this one, pulling a gun on a cop and the judge lets him out?


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 8:16 p.m.

This story should identify the judge that bonded Parker out on the 4 RA's..........


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 7:58 p.m.

"Family members who attended the arraignment said Parker is innocent. His attorney entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf." Love this! do they think hes innocent of the armed robberies too? So hes has more than one gun?


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 8:02 p.m.

I am sure his family will say he pled guilty to the robberies because the police and prosecutors forced him to.


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 7:50 p.m.

I completely understand Bond Before Being Found (or Plea) Guilty. But once a defendant pleads Guilty to four (4) Armed Robberies (each of which carries a potential Life sentence), Why would a Judge release him on Bond? It just don't make sense.


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 9:44 p.m.

He went for the gun while police were questioning him = no bond period! At least thats the way I see it.

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 8:02 p.m.

Because our local judges simply don't care.


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 7:45 p.m.

So how does this surprise anyone?


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 7:14 p.m.

"possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, being a felony in possession of a firearm" He's a felony?


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 11:29 p.m.

Actually he is sort of a walking felony.

Kyle Feldscher

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

That typo's been changed. Thanks for pointing it out.


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 6:54 p.m.

CLASSIC example of the police doing there part, finding dangerous criminals, arresting them, and succesfully prosecuting them, only to have the court system let them roam the streets!! He should have never had a $25,000 bond, and when he was convicted he should have been remanded to the County Jail then, not sent home to "run the streets". People who carry guns and commit crimes with them need to be incarcerated!!! We don't need more gun laws, a prime example of the current laws not working due to our court system!

David Boyer

Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 11:02 p.m.

I agree 100% with A2brooksie!!!!! It should be a lesson to these young punks!!!! How about give em NO bond for a weapon and automatic 90 days in jail just for carrying one that's not legal!! It's a start but I have heard too many dam times where a small mishap in the system ended up in death by illegal gun situations!

Jojo B

Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 8:54 p.m.

Depressing, but I agree. Why bother arguing over new gun control laws when the current lax system doesn't even work.


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 8:52 p.m.



Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 8:51 p.m.

in only someone would have done a background check on him before giving him a gun...


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 8:29 p.m.

A2brooksie: not only do you make valid points, You hit the nail on the head. Our "court system" is broken.


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 7:16 p.m.

You make valid points