A key court hearing in an Eastpointe murder case was adjourned Friday because the judge has concerns about whether the defense can represent the new defendant in the case after representing the prior suspect.
Judge Kathleen Galen of 38th District Court in Eastpointe postponed the preliminary examination for Dave Baroni, 32, who is charged with second-degree murder and other offenses for the August 2020 shooting death of Aaron Green, 21, at a gas station near 10 Mile and Hayes roads.
Attorney David Griem represented the former accused murderer, Maher Zuhairi, 27, whose murder charge was withdrawn July 1 by Macomb prosecutors after new witnesses indicated Baroni was the likely shooter during an illicit marijuana deal gone bad.
Baroni previously signed a conflict-of-interest waiver, and Zuhairi signed a waiver Friday morning at the courthouse before the hearing was to take place.
But Galen said concerns arose after she reviewed the waivers, and wants Griem and Assistant Macomb County Prosecutor Rebecca Kelly to submit legal briefs on the issue.
“This court is not satisfied that it a conflict that is waivable,” Galen said. “I want both sides to brief the issue – this is not an inherent conflict, it’s an actual conflict – as to why it is or is not a waivable offense.”
Galens scheduled a motion hearing for Sept. 26 and the preliminary examination for Sept. 30.
The waiver issue initially arose at an Aug. 2 hearing; Kelley at that time indicated language of the waiver needed to be amended.
Typically, co-defendants in a case cannot be represented by the same attorney or a former attorney of a co-defendant unless consented to by the clients.
Griem represented Zuhairi for nearly two years following the Aug. 11, 2020 incident at the Speedway gas station. The case was bound over to circuit court following a district court preliminary examination.
Prosecutors on July 1 dropped all charges against Zuhairi, including second-degree murder, based on interviews with eyewitnesses who previously could not be located by police.
Baroni within days was charged with second-degree murder, conspiracy to deliver marijuana, lying to police and two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.
Prosecutors recharged Zuhairi, who is now represented by attorney Michael Kemnitz, with conspiracy to deliver marijuana, accessory after the fact, lying to police and felony firearm.
Green was shot with a gun owned by Zuhairi as he was exiting a Chrysler 300 occupied by Baroni and Zuhairi, who were selling about two to four pounds of marijuana to Green, who fell to the ground and died next to fuel pumps.
The new information came from three men who occupied Green’s vehicle parked on the other side of the pumps.
Zuhairi drove away but returned to the scene and told police he was the shooter, officers said.
Both Baroni and Zuhairi are free in lieu of bond.
Macomb prosecutors drop murder charge in Eastpointe gas station shooting