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Man charged in 13-year-old's death, bond set at $2M

Posted at 5:33 PM, Apr 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-20 17:33:00-04

KENTWOOD, Mich. — Bond was set at $2 million on Wednesday for Justin Amir House, the man accused of shooting and killing a teenager in a confrontation over a stolen car last month.

According to court records, House fired a single shot at 13-year-old Jamarion McCuller the night of March 12. An attorney for Mr. House stated that the car in question had been reported stolen earlier in the day.

McCuller was allegedly running away from House at the time.

“During that chase House stated he fired one shot from a handgun that he was carrying towards the subjects running away from him,” charging documents that FOX 17 obtained from the Kentwood District Court state. “Jamarion McCuller was located deceased on scene with a single gunshot wound in his upper torso.”

An autopsy confirmed McCuller’s cause of death was the single gunshot wound.

On Wednesday, House — wearing a blue jail uniform and a surgical mask — appeared for his arraignment via video. He had turned himself over to authorities earlier in the day after charges were announced.

House was initially arrested the night of the shooting and was questioned by police, but was released shortly after, as prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence at the time to file charges. House faces a charge of second-degree murder, a crime punishable by a term of up to life in prison.

James King, Mr. House’s attorney, noted that his client had no prior criminal record, mental health issues or substance abuse problems. In fact, Mr. King noted that this was his client’s first-ever appearance in a courtroom.

“I will go on record as noting that he has absolutely no prior arrests or convictions,” said Mr. King. “The court obviously also has to take into consideration Mr. House’s criminal record, and there is no criminal record at all.”

Mr. King also implored the judge to consider the fact that Mr. House has been fully cooperating with authorities, and legally purchased — and had a permit for — the firearm used in the shooting. He also assured her Mr. House was not a flight risk.

“After being held for almost 72 hours, Mr. House was released into the community with almost no conditions,” said Mr. King. “If he had any intentions on fleeing or not trying to answer to these charges, he had roughly a month of time to get out of town, try to hide.”

“I must also take into consideration the seriousness of the offense charged, and this is a capital offense,” said District Court Judge Amanda Sterkenburg. “The allegations contained in the affidavit of probable cause here are that the defendant fired a gun at a person who was running away from him, and I know that person to have been a minor based on the information provided to the court. That to me is indicative of a dangerous personality, and someone from whom the public and the community require protection.”

House’s family didn’t comment after his arraignment, but Mr. King did pass along a message to the McCuller family from Mr. House.

“We can speak on his behalf and say that this is a very unfortunate event,” said Mr. King, “and that our heart goes out to the family of the victim and we hope that throughout this process, this judicial process, some questions get answered.”

Mr. King noted that at the time of the March 12 confrontation, Mr. House was with his significant other and his 1-year-old child.

“That kind of pressure, dealing with those types of situations within and of themselves, can cause a lot of things to happen in the heat of passion, from both sides.”

Mr. King said he was still seeking evidence and had had only a few conversations with his client. He did respond to allegations that Mr. McCuller was running away from Mr. House when he was fatally shot.

“We don’t know, at this point in time, if that is in fact true,” said Mr. King. “I haven’t seen the autopsy report and we haven’t had a chance to talk to the medical examiner. We do know that someone did pass and both Mr. House and his defense team understand that. And we extend our sympathies to family of the victim.”

“I don’t think there’s a right to use deadly force to defend property,” he continued, “and I don’t think that Mr. House is trying to assert that at this juncture.”

“It wasn’t like they were trying to fight you or anything. They were running. You chased them and ended up shooting my son in his back and taking his life,” said Talbert McCuller, Jamarion McCuller’s father told FOX 17 on March 29. “Every time I close my eyes, all I see is them lifting the curtain up, asking me is this my son?”

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