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November 11, 2013

Man convicted in beating sentenced to at least 15 years

By Sarah Wojcik
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
David Lyons, middle, argues with Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Diane Druzinski at his criminal sentencing Nov. 7 as defense attorney Azhar Shiekh, left, and Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor John Gemellaro, right, listen.

UTICA — Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Diane Druzinski sentenced David Lyons, 46, of Detroit, to 15-40 years in prison on Nov. 7 in the beating of a man June 14, 2012, that involved a hammer behind the TGI Fridays restaurant located at Schoenherr and Hall roads.

A jury convicted Lyons of four charges — assault with intent to commit bodily harm less than murder, armed robbery and conspiracy to do both — on Sept. 18 after a lengthy three-week trial. The jury reduced the original charge of assault with intent to commit murder.

Utica police arrested Lyons on Aug. 10, 2012, so he has 453 days of credit toward his sentence.

Lyons’ defense attorney, Azhar Shiekh, convinced Druzinski to lower one of Lyons’ offense variables (OV) of using excessive brutality from 50 to zero points, which affects the sentence guidelines for how much prison time she could dole out.

Druzinski also reduced Lyons’ co-defendant Damien Bank’s same OV to zero points on Oct. 22, although she adjourned his sentencing for the probation department to re-interview him based on his misunderstanding of the paperwork.

Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor John Gemellaro tried to argue otherwise, saying, “There was excessive brutality. The victim suffered, as a result of the attack, continued problems and had to have surgery to remove fragments of his skull from his brain.”

Druzinski said while she agreed there was excessive brutality, based on the charge, the brutality in this case was not excessive than otherwise necessary to commit the crime.

While standing before the court, Lyons’ statements were laced with profanities, and Druzinski stopped the proceedings to order him to stop using “the ‘F’ word” or she would order him out and conduct the sentencing without him.

“I know my client has seemed agitated throughout the trial, but he has been consistent about one thing — he proclaims his innocence,” Shiekh said. “I think based on that, that’s why he’s rather confrontational.”

Lyons said he did not touch the victim and was not at the scene of the crime. Utica police reports indicated that the victim called Lyons’ cellphone minutes before the attack and that Lyons told police he was at a nearby restaurant the night of the incident, although he later recanted on his statement. He also accused the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office of illegally convicting him, and he accused the prosecutor and Utica police of fabricating evidence.

Lyons filed for a motion for the court to reconsider his sentence, but Shiekh said that it was unlikely another trial would be held, since the motion is only granted based on certain criteria, and he did not believe Lyons met it.

“How he behaves in jail (will determine how many years he serves),” Shiekh said. “In a prior assault, he did the maximum time because he didn’t behave in jail because of what his personality can be like when he is agitated.”

Lyons’ criminal history includes nine counts, including two felonies and three misdemeanors.

Shiekh added that when he visited Lyons in his cell the night before to discuss terms and times, Lyons told him that he’d be out of prison before the snow falls.

“Delusional, optimistic — ­­I don’t know what you would call it,” he said, adding that his client’s past behavior indicates to him that he might receive close to the maximum 40 years in prison.