DETROIT (FOX 2) - A 16-year-old suspect, accused of an execution-style murder of three including a 5-year-old boy, is in court for a preliminary hearing which will determine if the case will proceed to trial.
Malcolm Ray Hardy was arraigned in March on the murder charges, which included the gruesome killings of Aaron Benson, LaShon Marshall, and her son Caleb Harris. The preliminary hearing is streaming live in the video player above. This story will be updated as witnesses testify.
The first witness to testify was the cousin of Benson who said that they last spoke on Thursday, Feb. 17. He said he was called by a relative on the 20th to go over to their home on Evergreen Rd. and Fenkell St. to check on his cousin.
He said when he arrived, nobody answered the front or back door so he went around back and found the back door had been kicked in. He said he then went inside and found all three victims shot to death inside the home.
His cousin said he didn't know what Benson did for a living. The defense attorney asked if Benson sold marijuana, to which his cousin said he did not know this to be true, despite being close to Benson.
The second person to testify was Detroit police officer Zachary Biggs who was the first to arrive. He said he discovered the bodies inside the home and evidence of gunshots inside the home. Biggs said all three had been shot multiple times and there were shell casings found throughout the home, all of the same caliber.
Judge Kenneth King then adjourned for lunch until 1:45 p.m. on Thursday. By 1:50, King resumed the hearing with the prosecution calling a friend of Hardy's to the stand.
The friend testified he has a twin brother and the two go to school with Hardy, who was known as ‘Lil Juice’. He also testified that he knew Aaron Benson lived at the home on Evergreen and that Benson would pay him for jobs in money or weed.
He said that his brother and Hardy also had the same agreement. These jobs included delivering Benson's weed to people, he said.
The friend testified that he, his brother, and Hardy were all at his home on Feb. 18. He said he was going to sleep around 8 p.m. that night and, around 9:30, his brother and Hardy woke him up and were "looking scared".
The friend said his brother was crying and shaking that night and Hardy was also shaking. He said Hardy was holding a black gun with an extended clip and a blue bag. The friend also said that he's seen the gun and the bag before at Benson's home.
According to the friend, Hardy said he shot Benson in the head and then Marshall in the butt by accident. Hardy then told him he shot Marshall in the head. At that point, a child ran into the room and the friend said Hardy shot him in the leg.
Hardy then said he shot Caleb in the head, killing him.
After confessing to the shooting, he said Hardy and his brother left for about two hours. The friend said he laid back down and when they returned, Hardy did not have the gun or the bag.
He said they then all went to sleep and Hardy and his brother left in the morning.
That morning, the friend said he told his mom Hardy had shot the three victims. The friend and his mother then picked up his brother and Hardy and went to the funeral home before going to his sister's home. During this car ride, Hardy told the friend's mom what happened and she started crying.
At his sister's house, Hardy said ‘the dude tried to grab my gun, so I shot him’. He said Hardy did not explain why he shot Marshall but said Caleb was ‘going to snitch on him’.
According to the friend, Hardy said his brother was outside of the home at the time of the shooting and never said anything about his brother being involved.
The friend said Benson sold large amounts of marijuana and he had kept a large amount of money.
The gun, the friend said, was typically kept in Benson's bedroom but that Hardy had found it in the living room that night. Hardy had told the friend that Benson had grabbed him and that's when he shot him in the head before ultimately shooting the other two victims.
Under cross-examination, the defense attorney questioned how he knew that the gun was Benson's but the friend said Benson had showed him what his gun looked like.
In redirect, the friend said he had been threatened by Hardy's family in messages. He also said that he was willingly testifying.
Following the friend's testimony, the prosecution read a statement from Hardy who said Benson had asked him to clean the living room. That's where Hardy said he found the gun. In the statement, he said he sat down and Benson punched him, so he started shooting.
The prosecution asked Hardy be bound over for first degree murder charges. His defense attorney argued there wasn't enough for first degree murder but did not offer other options for charges.
Judge King said there were holes in Hardy's story about shooting Benson in self-defense. He said that, between the shootings, he said Hardy had time to reflect on his actions - which shows premeditation for murder. He ordered Hardy be bound over on all charges. He'll be arraigned in third circuit court on May 19.
A second teen male was also arrested following Detroit police's investigation. However, the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office denied a warrant request for him due to insufficient evidence to charge him.
The bodies of Benson, Marshall, and Harris were discovered February 20 during a welfare check issued by police after a relative of the adult male victim had not heard from him for several days. All three victims had been shot multiple times and died from gunshot wounds the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office determined.