(FOX 2) - After several weeks of trial, a jury has found Andrew Fiacco guilty of second-degree murder in the death 19-year-old Stephen McAfee in March 2016.
On Tuesday afternoon, a jury announced their verdict before Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Faunce after weeks of hearing from witnesses, police, detectives, the victim's parents, the defendant's mother, and others. The jury found 21-year-old Andrew Fiacco guilty of second-degree murder, not first-degree murder as he was charged. He was found guilty of mutilation of a body, felony firearm and lying to police. While Fiacco did not contest the latter three charges -- the murder trial was spent trying to prove he acted in self defense.
Police say in the early morning hours of March 10, 2016, Fiacco, who was 19 years old at the time, and McAfee went to a vacant lot at 34 Mile and Van Dyke in Bruce Township, where Fiacco had planned to sell McAfee pot. A fight broke out and Fiacco shot, killing him. Throughout the trial, defense said Fiacco shot McAfee after he refused to pay him for the drugs. Prosecutors say McAfee was unarmed. Medical expert testimony found that one shot went up through the cheek and through the top of the skull, and another shot into the back of the skull.
According to court testimony, Fiacco left the body in the vacant field and returned to his home on Kunstman Road near 28 Mile where he lived with his parents and girlfriend Eevette MacDonald, who was 17 at the time. He returned, reportedly with MacDonald at gunpoint, and they dismembered the body via axe. Part of it was left in the field, part was placed in a duffel bag and into the trunk of MacDonald's car. Prosecution made it a point to note that when Fiacco and MacDonald first came upon the body again, Fiacco took three things from the body -- a watch, headphones and a vape. They were later found among Fiacco's things.
The duffel bags remained in MacDonald's car for 1-2 months, parked in Fiacco's driveway, according to testimony. Fiacco's mother testified that at this point, around September 2016, Fiacco wanted MacDonald to move out. MacDonald said she told Fiacco he needed to do something with the body in her car. Police said they bought buckets and cement at Home Depot, and buried the body on Fiacco's property in a shallow grave. They burned the duffel bag in the fire pit.
Two weeks later, MacDonaldsaid she moved in with her father, and she and Fiacco stopped regularly talking, but: "He would still randomly send me texts reminding me not to say anything," she said. She'd block him, but he would contact her on different numbers and social media profiles.
MacDonald said she and Fiacco spoke with police in September 2016 about McAfee's disappearance. In court, she admitted she lied, telling police she didn't know what happened to McAfee.
"I was afraid if I told them the truth, they wouldn't be able to react fast enough -- they wouldn't be able to help me or my family," she said.
Months later, she eventually told a friend about the murder. A month later, that friend and her father went to the police station. In April 2017, they brought in MacDonald, arrested her, and brought in Fiacco. Police said after interrogation, he confessed to shooting and killing McAfee, and was also arrested. He led police to where the body parts were buried.
MacDonald, now 20 years old, was charged with disinterment, a 10-year felony, accessory after the fact, a 5-year felony and lying to police, a 4-year felony. As part of a plea bargain, prosecutors dropped the last charge. MacDonald's also eligible for the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, or HYTA, which allows her a clean record if she follows the court's rules. Prosecutors said they wouldn't object to it -- and wouldn't object to probation. She will be setentenced at a later date.
She testified in Fiacco's trial on Jan. 31 that Fiacco had repeatedly accused her of sleeping with McAfee. It escalated so far he once drove her to McAfee's house, asking his family members if they recognized her. She said on the night of the shooting, he had again accused her of sleeping with McAfee. He was there when she fell asleep, but gone when she woke up around 2-3 a.m. that night. She said he told her that he and McAfee had hung out at a gas station and Fiacco dropped him back off.
When Fiacco told her he murdered McAfee, MacDonald testified that he said it was "because Stephen had seen something on Andrew's phone that he wasn't supposed to relating to the mafia." She said Fiacco had told her he was part of a mafia, providing technical services. She said he forced her to dismember and bury the body at gunpoint, saying she and her family were only safe from the mafia if she did her part.
Another key moment in the trial was when McAfee's mother took the stand. Stephen's mother read long exchanges between her and Fiacco after she hadn't heard from Stephen for a while. According to the testimony, Fiacco gave a long answer about them talking on FaceTime and how he tells Stephen he needs to be better at checking in with his parents. It was evident from the text messages that Stephen's mother didn't like them being friends.
Stephen's mother said she was alerted that Fiacco had left a comment on a news story about Stephen's disappearance:
"I wish I knew where he was, I would've told authorities already. He had a problem with checking in with his parents or anyone including me. He was very quiet and kept to himself a lot actually. I'd give him fatherly lectures about how he needs to check in with his parents before he goes somewhere or does something or if he went from one place to the next that he needed to let them know when he was going and when he arrived. Never did he do any of those things though. I miss him so much! Please come home brother! We all miss you very much!"
She also said she noticed that Fiacco deleted all photos with Stephen from his Facebook.
On Tuesday, Fiacco answered questions on the record -- saying that he had wanted to take the stand to tell his side of the story, but after speaking with his lawyers, decided against testfying in his own trial.
PROSECUTION'S CLOSING ARGUMENTS
During closing arguments, prosecutors emphasized that all of the facts do not add up to someone acting in self defense. Assistant Macomb County Prosecutor William Cataldo said the biggest clue -- Fiacco brought a gun out to sell McAfee pot in a vacant location.
"What is it -- if not premediated cold blooded murder? That's why he's in that location," he said.
Cataldo said McAfee told McAfee to leave his phone in the car. The prosecutor said that was likely so McAfee couldn't call 911.
He said he doesn't doubt a fight took place -- but Fiacco started it. He brought the gun.
"All Stephen did was realize he was about to be murdered and reacted to save himself," he said.
Last week, Fiacco's mother testified that she did not want MacDonald living with them -- that she'd contacted CPS and tried to get her to leave, but MacDonald would sneak back into Fiacco's room.
"Do you believe for a second that she forced her way into the Fiacco house and continued to live in the Fiacco house for 9 months?" Caltaldo said on Tuesday. "You think MacDonald is a squatter in the Fiacco house? .. Is it really her, or a fear of Andrew that kept her there?"
Watch the prosecution's full closing arguments below:
DEFENSE'S CLOSING ARGUMENTS
"If you have a reasonable doubt as to any element of the crimes under consideration than you must find Andrew not guilty," said Fiacco's lead counsel David Griem.
Griems told the jury that it's easy to say Fiacco should've done this, he should've done this -- but he panicked.
"You have to transport yourself. It's the middle of the night. It's a dark wooded area. Events have taken place that have caused you to believe that you are in great danger and you did what you thought was necessary at that time to survive," he said.
Griems said prosecutors tried to say a possible motive was jealousy. MacDonald had testified that Fiacco often accused her of sleeping with McAfee.
"What evidence was pressented to you of jealousy except the testimony of Eevette? She followed her script as to that. If we look at her two meetings with the police, if we look at her written statement to the police, she made no mention whatsoever of any personal relationship with Stephen. She made no mention of any jealousy," Griems said.
He also addressed the fact that MacDonald's sentenced was delayed until after she testified in Fiacco's trial. Citing his experience as a prosecutor, Griems said that was a purposeful move.
"If she goes south on you, she's going to go south and west to Jackson. That's a hammer. Think about that. Think about the pressure that was on Eevette to tell the prosecution just what they wanted to hear," he said.
Reading from MacDonald's transcripts with police, Griems said she told police: "He always jokes about being in the mafia ... I never believed it."
Watch the defense's full closing arguments below:
This rebuttle can be found around the 1 hour 30 minute mark in the video directly above. It is when Cataldo steps before the jury once again.
Cataldo dimissed Griems' attempt to use autism and fetal alcohol syndrome, both of which Fiacco's mother said he was diagnosed with, as a defense. He told the jury they saw how articulate he was on video, and the perfect punctuation used in his text messages with McAfee's mother.
He said as for MacDonald's plea deal, he said it's up to the judge. "All we can say is, we're staying out of it."