Anti-Semitic murder, US Crime

Man accused of murdering Synagogue leader in Detroit denies charges

Claiming innocence: during his testimony, Michael Jackson-Bolanos repeatedly denied breaking into Samantha Woll's townhouse and stabbing her last October.

Hezbollah rocket critically injured reservist soldier (photo: Melnikov Dmitriy / Shutterstock)

Michael Jackson-Bolanos, accused of killing Samantha Woll, told jurors on Wednesday that he did not play any part in the crime. He asserted that he never entered her home but instead came across her lifeless body outdoors, as reported by The Associated Press.

Samantha Woll, who served as the President of the board at the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, was found dead outside her home with multiple stab wounds on October 21.

Initially, investigators stated there was no evidence indicating her murder, which occurred two weeks after the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza, was motivated by hate. This assessment was reaffirmed by local prosecutors later on.

Jackson-Bolanos admitted that he did not contact the police upon discovering Woll's body.

“When I realized she was dead, I wanted nothing to do with the entire situation,” he testified to the jury. “I'm a Black man breaking into cars in the middle of the night, and I found myself standing in front of a deceased white woman. That doesn't look good at all.”

His testimony marked a pivotal moment in the trial. Police had found spots of Woll's blood on Jackson-Bolanos' jacket. While surveillance footage placed him in the vicinity, there was no evidence indicating he had entered her residence.

Investigators believe Woll was assaulted inside her home and managed to get outside before collapsing.

Jackson-Bolanos explained to the jury that he was attempting to open car doors around 4:00 a.m. when he stumbled upon Woll's body. His account provided a possible explanation for how her blood ended up on his coat.

“I didn’t disturb the body,” he clarified. “I just checked the neck — no pulse, no breath or anything. Once I realized I had touched a deceased person, I grabbed my bag and left.”

Jackson-Bolanos, who has a history of prior convictions, admitted he was reluctant to call the police because he did not want to explain his actions late at night. Initially, another person was arrested for the murder, but they were released in November. Jackson-Bolanos, a resident of Detroit, was subsequently charged in December.

The trial for the murder case is ongoing.

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