Petoskey woman charged with first degree murder
Carol Kopenkoskey, pictured, was charged Thursday with first degree murder of her husband, Lyle Kopenkoskey. (Courtesy photo / January 4, 2013)
Prosecutors on Thursday charged Carol Kopenkoskey, 59, with first degree murder and felony firearm in the death of her husband, Lyle, 58.
Lyle died of a gunshot wound and his body was found near his parked vehicle on Kiebel Road between Lake Grove Road and Townsend Road, in Resort Township, at approximately 12:30 a.m. on Oct. 3, 2012. His death was first ruled as suspicious.
Carl Kopenkoskey, Lyle's brother, first reported him missing at 9:38 p.m. on Oct. 2, after Lyle failed to show up at work, according to an affidavit from Emmet County's 90th District Court.
Sergeant Tim Rodwell of the Emmet County Sheriff's Department interviewed Carl and Carol, stated the affidavit. Carol told Rodwell that Lyle left their home on Townsend Road in Resort Township to go to work between 5-6 a.m. Oct. 2.
Carl Kopenkoskey looked for and found Lyle's truck along Kiebel Road, where, according to the affidavit, the truck was not along a direct route between Lyle's place of work in Harbor Springs and his home. The truck was located about a mile walk "cross-country across a field from (Lyle G. Kopenkoskey's) home."
"(Lyle's) truck was unlocked and the keys were inside of the passenger compartment," states the affidavit. "The seat was pulled up to a point where (Lyle) would not be able to fit behind the steering wheel."
Rodwell responded to the scene, and law enforcement and emergency responders found Lyle's body approximately 30 feet from his vehicle.
Michigan State Police Crime Lab and Detective J. L. Sumpter found that Lyle had sustained multiple gunshot wounds to the face and upper body. The official cause of death was listed as "gunshot to head," and the manner of death was listed as a homicide. Lyle was shot four times in the back and once in the temple. A bullet pulled from the body was tentatively identified as a bullet from a .38 handgun.
A toxicology report showed that Lyle had a "therapeutic level of Ambien and a very low blood alcohol level of .012 (percent) when he died."
Emmet County Sheriff's Office deputies found an empty pistol case at Carol's home that matched the size of a .38 handgun Carol was said to have owned, states the affidavit. The affidavit also states that police found books about murder, cleaning up crime scenes, forensics and poisons at the home.
The affidavit also reports that Carol was confirmed to be having a relationship with a business partner, who was out of the state at the time of the murder. State Farm Insurance called Sumpter on Oct. 15 to ask whether Carol was a suspect in Lyle's murder: she tried to claim a life insurance policy worth $100,000 that had been taken out on Lyle in November 2011, states the affidavit.
Carol was denied bond and is currently being held in the Emmet County Jail.
"It was a long investigation," said Emmet County Sheriff Pete Wallin. "There is a lot you have to wait for, a lot you have to do: interview people, search warrants, lab results, autopsy results. ... It was a three month investigation before everything was completed and forwarded to the prosecutor's office. These things sometimes take time, but we've done our job so far. Now it's up to the judicial system to take it the rest of the way."
Defense attorney Mary Beth Kur said she plans to file an appeal of the judge's denial of bond, asking for immediate consideration by the circuit court, today, Friday, Jan. 4.
"Under Michigan law, the court cannot simply deny bond just because somebody is charged with murder," said Kur. "There has to be a finding made by the court that proof of the defendant's guilt is evident or the presumption of guilt is great, and the judge did not do that. He simply said this is a homicide case and really didn't make any findings whatsoever regarding the strength of the evidence."
The evidence released so far, Kur pointed out, is all circumstantial based on what has been released about the case so far.
"There is no murder weapon, no eyewitnesses, no DNA, no blood, no shell cases, nobody who puts her at the scene. They found books at her house and they think she had a boyfriend," said Kur. "What the judge is supposed to do is make a finding on what is in front of him."
Kur hopes that the circuit court will reverse the bond denial or remand it "under the circumstances of this case."
Carol Kopenkoskey's preliminary hearing is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 14.
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