Detroit man charged with murder, arson in connection with West Bloomfield woman found in burned car

Diana Pesserl found dead in burned car

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. – An 18-year-old Detroit man was charged Monday in connection with the murder of a West Bloomfield woman who was found shot to death in a burned car.

DeSean Maurice Smith is charged with arson, felony firearm and open murder in Diana Pesserl's death.

Smith was arrested Monday afternoon. You can see pictures of his court appearance below.

Police said Smith was visiting a childhood friend just a few houses down from Pesserl, but that he has no connection to her.

Officials believe Pesserl was sitting in her car listening to music, which she often did, when Smith left his friend's house and allegedly killed her.

"Smith returned approximately an hour and a half later and showed (a person) the butt of a firearm in his waistband," Detective Derek Kane said. "(Smith said), '(Pesserl) tried to grab my pistol so I had to shoot her.' Detectives later found a .38 pistol and 10 rounds of ammunition."

In the courtroom Monday, Smith told the judge he isn't a flight risk because he's not a threat and that he's innocent of the charges.

Pesserl died of a single gunshot wound to her abdomen, according to medical officials. A suspect was arrested Monday in connection with the case.

Police said the suspect will be arraigned Monday in court. Stay with for updates on the case.

Pesserl was found in a burning car behind the vacant Pine Lake Elementary School. Police followed tire tracks up the path behind the school to a home on Shore Crest Drive.

Two young men were taken in Friday for questioning -- a 19-year-old from West Bloomfield and an 18-year-old from Detroit. They were considered persons of interest in the case. One of the men was arrested on an unrelated warrant out of Detroit.

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About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.