Friend takes stand in Cipriano murder trial

Mitchell Young charged in deadly April 2012 attack in Farmington Hills home

By Guy Gordon - Reporter/Anchor
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PONTIAC, Mich. - Testimony is back underway Thursday in the trial of Mitchell Young, who is charged in the baseball attacks on the Cipriano family.

Robert Cipriano was killed inside his Farmington Hills home in April 2012. His wife Rose and their son Sal were also attacked. Sal Cipriano still is in a hospital.

Tucker Cipriano has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and attempted murder and faces an automatic penalty of life in prison

Co-defendant Mitchell Young has his own jury and trial.

WATCH LIVE: Trial for Mitchell Young in Cipriano baseball bat beatings

9 AM

Ian Zinderman takes the stand and is being being questioned directly by prosecutor John Skrzynski.

Zinderman identifies Mitchell Young at defendant's table.

Zinderman is a longtime friend of Tucker Cipriano and knew Mitchell Young for two weeks at time of murder.

He has a brush cut and neatly trimmed beard. Young sits stone-faced as the testimony begins. 

Zinderman admits he suffers from complex seizure disorder, causing him difficulty with processing questions.

Witness also admits he suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder. 

He has been granted immunity from prosecution in return for his testimony.

Zinderman said he first spoke to police on April 16, 2012, the morning after the attack at Cipriano home. 

In final weeks of March, he hung out at home of James and Keontay Williams, drinking, smoking marijuana, Spice (K-2), and socializing.  

Mitchell Young also known as "Roderick." 

He was in a group with Zinderman and Tucker Cipriano. 

At the end of April, Young and Tucker approached Zinderman and asked him if he wanted to make a little bit of money. 

Zinderman said a plan was discussed to go off and do a crime, to kill a family. But it wasn't specified as to which family.

"Tucker wanted to get out of state. He violated his probation and wanted to get out.  He didn't want to go back to jail," Zinderman said.

They needed a car. 

Prosecutor: Was that going to be part of the job?

Zinderman: Yeah.

They felt they could get roughly $3,000.

They offered Zinderman 1/3 share.

"They wanted me to dispose of the bodies and drive the getaway car. They wanted to dump them into the Detroit River and weigh them down with barrels or some sort," Zinderman said.

Zinderman said he did know the Cipriano family.

"I didn't want to do something that awful, so I didn't give them an answer," Zinderman said.

Prosecutor: Why not just say no? 

Zinderman: Because I wanted to lead them along.  I didn't want to cut them off.

Zinderman appears to get emotional.

9:15 AM

Prosecution admits pictures of the Cipriano family into evidence, which Zinderman identifies. 

Young sits ram-rod straight as the pictures of the family are projected on a large screen. 

April 15, 2012 --early morning hours. 

Zinderman testifies he was at the Williams home again.

He had a backpack of his belongings with him. 

Shows witness photo of a black bag, his backpack. 

It's identified and placed in evidence. 

Arrived at Williams home at 9. 

Cipriano and Young arrived at home in Young's truck. 

Zinderman identifies photos of Young's Ford Ranger truck.

Zinderman said they had conversation before leaving the Williams house to get some money.

"We were talking about taking money from Cipriano house, that was Tucker Cipriano's idea," Zinderman said.

Zinderman said they wanted K-2, spice. 

They hatched the plan while sitting in Young's truck outside the Williams home. 

Defense is objects and wants specifics about who said what, who initiated the plan.

Zinderman says Cipriano and Young seemed to be equally involved.

Prosecutor: What was the plan going to be? 

Zinderman: All of us would park the car at end of Cipriano's road.

They passed the house and parked at dead end at end of road. 

Young drove the vehicle to Cipriano home.  Near Orchard Lake and 11 mile. 

Read: Tucker Cipriano pleads no contest to murdering his father

9:30 AM

Boosted Tucker to window. He takes out the screen and boosted him through the window.

Zinderman says he doesn't see or hear anything as he waits.

He doesn't know if Tucker goes from the garage into the home.

He comes out holding a bank card in his hand. He brought out other cards with information on them.

DFC Financial Check card is identified and photos are entered into evidence. He did not bring out cash.

We go back and all three of us, Young, Tucker and me go down to the Valero gas station.

Tucker replaces screen in window.

Young and Cipriano both get out the car, I stay in the car and they enter the station. They pay for..

Young fills up the tank and Cipriano has some blunt wraps and Spice.

They then drive toward Keego Harbor.

When they got to the home in Keego, they rolled a joint and smoked the K-2. Zinderman says the smell nauseates him, so he doesn't smoke.

Young and Tucker do smoke.

Go to a Mobil station at Square Lake and Orchard Lake

Young and Cipriano go into store at Mobil station. They return empty handed.
They went into the store to get more Spice. Judge asks witness to be specific about who suggested they get more Spice.

They were talking about getting more money and it was brought up, what if we can't get money and that's when they started talking about killing the family again.

They were debating about going to the Hodges or the Cipriano family and they decided on the Cipriano.

They wanted the loot, to take the money and kill the family.

Both of them discussed assignments about who would kill which members of the family. Young was supposed to take the parents and Cipriano was going to take his brothers.

Prosecutor: Do you know which one suggested this batting order?

Zinderman: No.

Young wanted to kill the sister and take responsibility to do that. 46:44

Prosecutor: When young says he wants to kill the sister ... who brought that up?

Zinderman: I don't remember.

Zinderman says they decided to kill Robert Cipriano first because he posed the biggest threat.

He loved his sister more than anything in the world. Was he as determined to do this after the issue of Isabella came up? No, I don't think so. He didn't feel comfortable.

Instead, they decided to go back to the house to get more money. They scotched the plan to kill the family.

9:53 AM

They returned to the home and parked closer to the house.

This time Tucker and Zinderman make their way back to the Cipriano residence. Young waits in the truck. This is the second visit to the home and they intend to look for cash in Robert Cipriano's wallet.

Zinderman testifies he hears car door open and that Tucker comes out with Visa gift card with a sticky note attached. They thought the balance on the card was $265. It was actually $2.65.

(Shot of gift card)

They take the gift card, return to the truck and head to the Mobil station again in Keego Harbor.

Zinderman: I wanted them to drop me off at Samantha's house. That's when they decided they were going to go ahead and kill the family. I told them if you want to F*** up your life you can f*** it up on your own accord, don't bring me into it.

He took a nap. Then Young and Cipriano leave him at Samantha's house.

Young has not changed his expression. He does not slouch or ever appear to relax during testimony. He occasionally takes notes. His posture is consistently erect. His face is impassive.

Zinderman talks about the conspiracy and planning of the murders without emotion in a flat, matter-of-fact voice. When he tells them he has no intention of being involved in the killings, he is very emphatic.

Zinderman is now explaining and identifying pictures of Samantha's home, where he stayed the night of the attacks.

Zinderman: I woke up to Cipriano in the bathroom. I was in doorway of Sebastian's room. There was blood on his left sleeve.

10:27 AM -- Court takes recess

11 AM -- Testimony from Zinderman resumes

Zinderman affirms he saw Tucker in a bloody shirt.

Zinderman: I recognize a wound on his lower left side, he's cleaning it off. It looked like a dog bite. I don't know whether it was or not.

He was wearing black pants that were ripped up the side. It was a big, long rip. Tucker was quiet, keeping to himself.

Zinderman says they hang out for awhile and agree to go for a walk for more Spice they were smoking.

Zinderman says he gave Tucker a new shirt. He was uncomfortable with him wearing a bloody shirt. He says he was in shock.

Mitchell Young was not part of the group.

Zinderman says he didn't want to believe his best friend would participate in a murder.

Prosecution admits photos of the home where Cipriano changed his shirt and left the blood-stained shirt behind.

(Shot of shirt on floor of apartment)

Tucker Cipriano told Zinderman he wanted to burn the shirt.

Zinderman: Tucker said if Young didn't come back to the house, "The money's lost."

Tucker asks Zinderman to move the truck, fearing it would bring police to him. Wanted it dumped in a random parking lot, and dispose of it later. He was also supposed to dispose of a knife. Tucker asked him to throw it into a lake.

Zinderman was apprehended by police and held for several hours while awaiting questioning.

He is questioned by police and told them everything, admitting his statements were jumbled up.

He is questioned again by Farmington Hills police. He admits he withheld information from F.H. police, fearing arrest.

He didn't ask for immunity or a lawyer. Zinderman says he was scared and wanted to do the right thing. Later he met with prosecutors.

Prosecution: Did anybody tell you what to say?

Zinderman: No.

Takes witness back to the first stop at the Mobil station.

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