Samantha Woll murder trial: Jury deliberations to begin Wednesday

Closing arguments wrapped up in the murder trial of Michael Jackson-Bolanos, the man accused of killing Samantha Woll.

The prosecution and defense gave their final statements Tuesday before the judge read instructions to the jury. They will return to court on Wednesday morning and begin deliberating the defendant's guilt. 

Jackson-Bolanos is charged with first-degree murder, home invasion, and lying to a peace officer in connection with the fatal stabbing of Woll.

Woll, a prominent Jewish leader in the Detroit area, was found murdered outside her home last October. Prosecutors say she was killed during a break-in attempt, while the defense argues that the suspect may be a thief, but he isn't a killer.

Jackson-Bolanos took the stand in his own defense. He said he was breaking into vehicles in the area and came across Woll's body. Because of his criminal history, he said, he didn't call 911. Jackson-Bolanos was wearing a jacket that had a few drops of Woll's blood on it, a fact he attributes to finding her body. 


Michael Jackson-Bolanos maintains he did not kill Woll during testimony, admits lying to police

During cross-examination on Monday, Michael Jackson-Bolanos maintained that he did not kill Samantha Woll, but admitted to lying to police about coming across her body the night of her fatal stabbing.

Though he denied killing Woll, while on the stand Jackson-Bolanos did say he lied to police about coming across her body the night of the murder.

"I stated that I did touch the body. I was telling the truth. I'm here today, sworn and affirmed, to tell the truth," Jackson-Bolanos said. "I may have lied in the past, but today I'm telling the truth; last week – telling the truth."

"This was a deliberate act - a crime of passion," said Brian Brown, Jackson-Bolanos' defense attorney. "He's innocent. It's not just that the prosecution hasn't proved their burden - it's that there's so much other evidence that would suggest another individual committed this particular murder."

That individual, Brown told jurors, is Woll's ex-boyfriend, Jeffrey Herbstman, who originally confessed to the crime - but was cleared and never charged.

"This person running from the scene looks very similar to Jeff Herbstman. Haircut, glasses - even the coat he's wearing," Brown said. "Now why don't we have the video of where this person ran to."

Brown says investigators neglected their duty to fully investigate Herbstman.

"After he confesses to killing Samantha Woll - they treat him with kid gloves? Like he spilled his milk like a toddler," he said.

Instead - Brown says - investigators focused on Jackson-Bolanos - a thief out stealing from cars that night who claims he came across Woll's body - checked to see if she was okay - got scared and took off.

Trace amounts of Samantha Woll's blood - later found on his jacket.

"He's got her blood on multiple areas of his clothing and on the backpack that he's wearing that night - that is a coincidence that he cannot overcome," said Ryan Elsey, assistant prosecutor.

The prosecution told jurors that surveillance video shows Jackson-Bolanos near Woll's home at the time of the crime and that the defendant himself admits he's a liar and a thief.

Prosecutors say he's a killer, too.

"The accusations they've made against Jeff Herbstman are unsupported," Elsey said. "We are accusing the defendant of murder and we backed it up with serious evidence.

"The only time that motion is detected in her home after her phone stops being used - the defendant's right there. And then, as he's leaving, he's got her blood on him. The blood tells the story in this case and it tells the story of the defendant's guilt."

But Brown is telling jurors that Samantha Woll's blood tells a different story.

"You're over them stabbing them in a crime of passion - meanwhile blood is projecting onto the person's shoes, pants, and all types of garments," Brown said. "Why isn't there blood on the front of him - why is there blood only on the sleeve on his arm - the arm he touched her with - where's the rest of the blood - that's not a coincidence - that there's no blood anywhere else on any of his clothes - that's not a coincidence - the reason is because he did not kill Samantha Woll."