Sturgis and his 15-year-old son have been charged in the March 16 beating death of a man inside the Happy Party store on 8 Mile Road. Sturgis told police he was just trying to protect himself and his son.
Surveillance video shows the victim, 45-year-old Carl Bell, walk up to the store register to pay for items. Police say Sturgis, 39, is shown in a blue hoody standing behind Bell. He moved in front of Bell to pay. A fight ensued between Bell and two other men who police say are Sturgis and his son. The beating killed Bell.
Sturgis later admitted he and his son beat the man, but said it was in self-defense. He told police he struck Bell in the face a couple of times during an interrogation with Detroit Homicide Det. Patrick Mott.
Sturgis is legally blind in one eye. He said Bell hit him first and he feared for his safety.
Prosecutors say Sturgis was on top of the victim for 11 minutes and that for much of that time the victim was kept in a choke hold.
Bell ultimately died after choking on his own blood. The defense argues the crime happened during what they call a heat of passion, and that the death is at best involuntary manslaughter.
"Again, you have a handicapped man, a blind man with one eye, and he's trying to defend himself as much as possible," said defense attorney Marlon Blake Evans.
Judge Michael E. Wagner disagrees.
"I did not see the complainant in a position to ever present a danger because he immediately went to the floor," said the judge.
Throughout the interrogation, Sturgis kept saying he was just trying to protect his son. At one point during the preliminary hearing, the defense argued the cane Bell was carrying never hit the ground and was a weapon. The judge dose not agree.
Sturgis faces a 2nd degree murder charge, as does his son.
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