Man charged with murder in 1990 cold case

Posted at 2:37 PM, Dec 19, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-19 16:37:39-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- After more than two decades without answers, the Battaglia family may now know who is responsible for the 1990 murder of their son.

"Somebody did this to my son should be accountable," said Joel Battaglia's mother, Gail Battaglia. "I'd like to ask them how they could do this, it gives me a chance to maybe do that."

Police believe Aurelias Marshall brutally beat and robbed Joel Battaglia, 23, on June 11, 1990, in Eastown. Marshall was charged Friday with open murder and felony murder in connection with the crime.

"I think it's important that we send the message that this department, this community," said GRPD Chief David Rahinsky, "this prosecutor won't rest when a heinous crime occurs in our community, whether it takes days, months, years or in this case decades, we will work to bring it to a conclusion."

For 24 years, Battaglia's family has sent a Christmas card to Kent County Prosecutor Bill Forsyth.  This year, he received the card just two days before the arrest.

"There's always a void when I look at that card," Forsyth said. "It's what might have been if Joel were still alive, what would he have done, what would his family have been like, and at some level I've always felt somewhat guilty because I really couldn't do anything to help them. But today I'd like to in some small way thank them for their kindness, and we're going to do everything we can from here on out to bring justice for Joel and for you."

Marshall has a criminal record of including a violent child abuse case in the 1990s and of lying to police.

Three other people have also been arrested for lying to police in connection with the case.