Defense moves for dismissal of charges in vehicular homicide case 

April 10, 2024

Mark Casterman

By Allison Scarbrough, News Editor

LUDINGTON — The defense attorney representing a 59-year-old Grand Rapids man accused of running over his wife with a car and killing her made a motion in Mason County’s 51st Circuit Court Tuesday, April 9, to dismiss the charges.

“I ask the court to grant the motion and dismiss the charges,” said defense attorney Horia Neagos who represents Mark Lazon Casterman. Neagos said there was no physical evidence presented at the preliminary exam in 79th District Court that proved Casterman ran over and killed his wife, alleging that she jumped out in front of the car causing her own death.

“No one is arguing that the crash did not occur.” The attorney said he is asking the court to review the evidence presented in district court to determine whether Casterman engaged in criminal behavior to cause Melissa Casterman-Medacco’s death.

An argument during a ride home from the casino led to the death of 45-year-old Casterman-Medacco, who the prosecution alleges was run over by a car driven by her husband of 16 years on Sept. 15, 2023 on US 31 near Freeman Road in Free Soil Township.

Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole previously said Casterman-Medacco was killed instantly and was declared dead at the scene.

Prosecutor Kreinbrink said “the fight, the anger and the drinking led to the crash” during the preliminary examination in district court, Dec. 6.

Casterman is seated next to his attorney Horia Neagos while Mason County Prosecutor Lauren Kreinbrink addresses the court.

Following three-and-a-half hours of testimony by half a dozen witnesses, District Court Judge John Middlebrook bound over charges of homicide – open murder, operating while intoxicated causing death, operating while license suspended causing death and third-offense operating while intoxicated to 51st Circuit Court. Judge Middlebrook noted Casterman’s previous drunk driving convictions in 1990, 1998 and 2005.

Neago made a motion Tuesday to quash the bind over by Judge Middlebook. Several family members of both Melissa Casterman-Medacco and Mark Casterman appeared in court.

Both Neagos and Prosecutor Kreinbrink submitted briefs for 51st Circuit Court Judge Susan K. Sniegowski to review.

There was only circumstantial evidence — not direct evidence — presented that the defendant was the driver, said Neagos. “That’s ultimately the crux of our argument — the corpus delicti rule is not met.”

Corpus delicti is “the fact of transgression,” according to Black’s Law Dictionary. “Loosely, the material substance on which a crime has been committed; the physical evidence of a crime, such as the corpse of a murdered person.” The corpus delicti rule is “the doctrine that prohibits a prosecutor from proving the corpus delicti based solely on a defendant’s extrajudicial statements. The prosecutor must establish the corpus delicti with corroborating evidence to secure a conviction.”

“The prosecution has established the tragic death in this case,” said Neagos. “It does not constitute murder,” he added, citing case law.

“The people provided an ample amount of circumstantial evidence to prove corpus delicti,” said Prosecutor Kreinbrink. “This is not a case that Ms. Casterman jumped out of the vehicle. I am asking the court to continue the trial.”

“I have had the opportunity to review the briefs,” said Judge Sniegowski. After she receives copies of 11 exhibits presented at the preliminary exam, she will prepare a written opinion within 30 days.

“I understand the court has to make a significant and grave decision,” said Neagos.

Homicide is punishable by up to life imprisonment; operating while intoxicated causing death carries a 15-year maximum; operating while license suspended, revoked, or denied causing death also carries a 15-year maximum; and third-offense operating while intoxicated is punishable by one to five years in prison.

Casterman remains lodged in the Mason County Jail on a $1 million bond.


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