DEARBORN — On Tuesday at the 19th District Court, the preliminary examination for Charles Jackson, 26, Zelda Taylor, 28, Iashia Knox, 28, and Kristen Holmes, 28 was held in front of Judge Mark Somers, revealing some much awaited details about the death of 45-year old local man Hassan Jaber, who was found dead in his home in July. The four alleged suspects had been detained and held at the Wayne County Jail without bond since their arrests were made in late July.
|Prosecutor Erica Tusar (Far Right) during the preliminary examination for the death of Hassan Jaber. Also visible in the photo are two of the suspects, Taylor and Holmes. |
The courtroom was packed with family and supporters of the four suspects as well as family members of Jaber, who were all able to hear the details surrounding the case, incluing the testimonies of six key witnesses, who would further prove the four suspects' alleged involvement in the murder. The first witness to give testimony was Jaber's brother, Nour Jaber, who told the courtroom that he was the one that identified his brother's body after being alerted by the Dearborn Police.
Several following witnesses would further reveal information that would be key to the case. Ebony Collins, who is a cousin to two of the suspects, Holmes and Knox, took the witness stand and revealed that the four suspects might have used her car on the night of Jaber's death, which was believed to have occurred in the early hours of July 12th, a few days before his body was discovered.
Collins says the four suspects, along with herself and another cousin of hers, were at Taylor's and Jackson's home in Detroit when the four suspects asked to borrow Collins' car to go get liquor. Collins stayed behind to watch Taylor and Jackson's newborn. According to Collins, Taylor had also been in a relationship with Jaber despite sharing a child with Jackson.
Collins told the courtroom that she overheard both Taylor and Jackson engaging in a plot to go to Jaber's house along with Knox and Holmes and steal some money, which Taylor had known was stashed somewhere in the kitchen.
"She said that she and Iashia were supposed to go to Hassan's house and have a three-some and that the doors would be left opened. Then Chuck said he was going to come in from the side door and pretend like Hassan was having an affair with his wife, knock him out and tie him up, and then they were going to search the house," Collins stated.
Collins says she eavesdropped on the conversation for a couple of minutes from a hallway near the kitchen while the four alleged suspects were in the living room discussing the plan. She added that when confronting the four suspects about the conversation, they wouldn’t acknowledge it. When the four suspects left with Collins' 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix to go get liquor, she says they did not return until a few hours later, around 3:00 a.m.
Another key witness was a 28-year-old man named Osei Taylor, one of Zelda Taylor's cousins. While appearing hesitant to speak to the courtroom, it was revealed that Zelda Taylor had briefly called Osei on July 17 and told him that Hassan was dead. Osei originally gave these statements to the police when he was questioned in July, however during his testimony in the courtroom, he would reveal new information, much to the prosecutor's dismay, stating that he believes Charles Jackson forced Taylor to make that phone call.
"It sounded like she was forced to say it," said Osei Taylor, also adding that he did not reveal this to the police because he feared Jackson, who is known to be a "violent and abusive man."
Prosecutor Erica Tusar did not take these statements lightly, stating that it wasn't consistent with his original testimony to the police. Upon asking him to review his exam transcripts, he would then reveal that Zelda had told him about this plan over a year ago, stating that they were going to "set him [Jaber] up for robbery."
In addition, phone records obtained by the Dearborn Police would reveal that phone calls were made to Hassan Jaber's cell phone on July 12th at both 2:10 and 2:11 a.m, through the cell phone number of Kristen Holmes. Dearborn Police believe it was around this time when the suspects entered Jaber's home, where he was killed with a knotted portion of a tree branch.
Sgt. Andreas Barnett, who was also one of the witnesses on the stand as well as an investigator on the case, revealed that when they had obtained Knox for questioning, she gave a hand-written statement which said that she, Taylor and Holmes drove a borrowed car to Jaber's house, while she and Taylor went inside Jaber's home leading him to believe that a sexual encounter would take place. Knox's written statements also revealed that Holmes and Jackson would burst through the door where Jackson proceeded to beat Jaber. While it was uncertain if any cash was obtained, according to Knox's statement, Jackson was able to obtain two laptops from the house.
The preliminary examination lasted for over five hours, resulting in Judge Mark Somers having to put the examination on pause so it could resume on a second day. The date was set for Friday, August 31, where after the remainder of the examination plays out, Judge Somers will decided if there is sufficient evidence against the four suspects to face a proper trial.
Hassan Jaber, a construction worker, was found dead on Sunday July 15 inside his home, where his body was laying half on the bed and half on the floor in the nude. Family members told The Arab American News in July that Jaber was a quiet construction worker who might have hired help from time to time.