SAGINAW, MI — Four people accused of breaking into a man’s Birch Run house, shooting him in the head, then setting him and his house on fire are a step closer to facing a jury.
The preliminary examination of Faith A Lord, 19; Jordan A. Schmitzer, 22; Kyle L. Bostic, 24; and Nolan R. Croton, 21; concluded the afternoon of Wednesday, June 1, having begun April 8 and continued April 27. The four, along with codefendant 24-year-old Jordan R. Harrison, are accused of invading the home of 65-year-old Scott M. Engelhardt in the early morning hours of Oct. 15, killing the homeowner as they looted his house of guns, drugs, and miscellaneous items.
Saginaw County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Blair N. Stevenson argued for Saginaw Count District Judge M. Randall Jurrens to bind the four defendants over to Circuit Court for trial.
In making his argument, Stevenson recapped witnesses’ testimony from the prior dates, specifically that of Harrison, who testified she went with her four friends to Engelhardt’s house planning to kill him and steal his property.
“The unfortunate thing of this whole matter is no one has clean hands,” Stevenson said. “Even Miss Harrison is guilty as the next, so she decided to cooperate.”
Stevenson reiterated that Harrison testified members of the group planned to give Engelhardt a batch of fentanyl laced with methamphetamine, hoping he would suffer a fatal overdose.
“It was further explained it was the easiest way to get the items they wanted,” Stevenson said. In the end, Schmitzer shot Engelhardt in his head with one of Engelhardt’s own rifles as the group ransacked the house, Harrison testified. Hours later, Schmitzer, Lord, and Bostic returned to Engelhardt’s and set it on fire in hopes of covering their tracks, at the instruction of Lord’s mother, Harrison said.
Stevenson went on to say each member of the quintet aside from Faith Lord gave statements to police putting themselves at the crime scene.
Defense attorney Alan A. Crawford, representing Schmitzer, said Harrison has serious credibility issues, in that she gave police three different versions of events as they interviewed her.
“The final one we got is the one that appeased law enforcement,” Crawford said. “She was not providing information; the information was being force-fed to her by detectives.”
He said her entire testimony was nothing more than appeasement to the prosecution, to hopefully get herself a deal that would allow her to one day have a life outside of prison.
“She was doing whatever she could to save herself, and that means something,” Crawford said. He also said Saginaw County Sheriff’s Detective Donald Thom badgered and threatened his client during an interview in which he confessed to shooting Engelhardt.
Defense attorney Alec L. Sturtz, representing Croton, said there was no evidence his client was inside Engelhardt’s house when the gunshot was fired or that he had participated in any plan to kill Engelhardt.
Attorney James F. Piazza, representing Bostic, asked the judge to dismiss all the charges against his client. He said the case relied solely on Harrison’s testimony, in which she specifically said Bostic was passed out on heroin as the group drove to Engelhardt’s and thus did not participate in the planning to kill him.
Criticizing her credibility and the various versions she gave, Piazza stated Harrison had previously been convicted of false report of a misdemeanor. He
20:35–previously convicted of false report of a misdemeanor, saying
“She admitted to lying to the police on multiple occasions,” Piazza said. “She also admitted it was the detective who was giving her information and that she was just telling the police officer what he wanted to hear. She admitted that time and time and time again. So how can this court actually rely on her testimony at all?”
Judge Jurrens ended up binding the four defendants over to the higher court for further proceedings.
“Whatever reservations I may have, it’s insufficient for me to wholly reject her testimony,” the judge said. “Ultimately, it’s up to a jury to decide whether or not they find her credible.”
Harrison on April 8 waived her right to a preliminary examination and was bound over to Circuit Court then.
During the hearing’s first day of testimony, Lee Engelhardt, a nephew of the victim, testified his uncle was a gun collector who had five rifles, two shotguns, three handguns, two derringer pistols, and two air rifles. He said his uncle kept most of the guns in two safes, though he often had a snub-nose .38-caliber handgun in a basket below his wheelchair.
Engelhardt was in a wheelchair as his right leg had been amputated.
Engelhardt’s killing was one of 31 homicides in Saginaw County in 2021. Of those 31, 29 guns involved.
The year before Engelhardt’s death, the US recorded 45,222 firearm-related deaths, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those, 19,384 — or 43% — that were homicides, the most since 1968.
“The 45,222 total gun deaths in 2020 were by far the most on record, representing a 14% increase from the year before, a 25% increase from five years earlier and a 43% increase from a decade prior,” reports the Pew Research Center .
Saginaw County Sheriff’s Detective Donald Thom testified Croton told him during an interview that he and his four friends went to Engelhardt’s home to steal marijuana.
Thom said he later interviewed Schmitzer, who said they went to Engelhardt’s home at 11383 S. Block Road in Birch Run, planning to steal gun safes. He said Lord and Harrison went to the front door to distract Engelhardt while the three males entered through a back door.
“He said when they got inside, the girls were talking and an argument ensued,” Thom said. “During the argument, (Schmitzer) noticed Scott was reaching for a gun in his wheelchair. At that point, he turned and grabbed a .22 rifle from Bostic and pulled it up and took a shot at Scott, striking him in the head.”
The five intruders left shortly thereafter, Schmitzer driving away in Engelhardt’s 1998 Cadillac DeVille, while the rest left in Lord’s mother’s van. They reconvened at Lord’s Clio home, but after four hours or so, Harrison drove Schmitzer and Bostic back to Engelhardt’s, Thom testified Schmitzer told him.
“He said Bostic took a butane torch, lit it, and threw it into a pile of clothes,” Thom said.
When the hearing resumed on April 27, forensic pathologist Dr. Roshan Mahabir testified he performed an autopsy on Engelhardt’s remains. He determined a bullet entered Engelhardt’s skull through his left eye.
Engelhardt’s lungs’ contents were more than 70% smoke, indicating he was alive when the fire was set in his home.
“He was shot and exposed to fire and smoke,” Mahabir said. “It’s a combination of these three that killed him. That’s why I have his cause of death as gunshot injury with smoke inhalation and thermal injuries. The manner of death was homicide.”
Engelhardt had methamphetamine and fentanyl in his system at the time of his death, Mahabir said.
Also on April 27, Harrison testified for the prosecution against her friends. She described Engelhardt as a former friend, saying she had briefly lived with him. She added they had sex on one occasion and used drugs together.
By October, Harrison was living at the Lords’ house, as were Schmitzer and Bostic. Late at night on Oct. 14 or early the next morning, Harrison was awakened by Schmitzer and Faith Lord.
“Jorden Schmitzer said it was his birthday and if I loved him, I would come and do this robbery with him and Faith Lord and everyone else,” Harrison said. Lord “said that they needed me because I knew Scott. I didn’t want to go at first but I had a lot of feelings for Jorden so I ended up getting up and going with them.”
Lord drove the group in her mother’s van to Engelhardt’s, the plan being for the two women to go inside and give Engelhardt a fatal mixture of fentanyl and meth, hoping he would overdose so they could more easily steal his property, Harrison said.
Engelhardt welcomed Harrison and Lord into his home and consumed the drugs but did not die, Harrison testified. At Lord’s prompting, Harrison surreptitiously removed a .38-caliber revolver from a basket Engelhardt kept under his wheelchair, she said.
Not long after, the three men entered the house wearing gloves and masks. They began yelling at Engelhardt and ordering him around as he pleaded for his life, Harrison said.
Harrison, Lord, and Croton ransacked the house of TVs, paintings, rocks, vinyl records, coins, meth, Xanax, and Adderall, taking the items to the van. The women stayed at the van while Croton returned to the house. Minutes passed, then Croton again exited the house and approached Lord and Harrison.
“Nolan comes out and says, ‘It’s probably better that you don’t come back in the house,'” Harrison said. “I got kinda, like, nervous and was like, ‘Why?’ He ended up going back in the house. Me and Faith are staying in the van. About 10 minutes go by and he says he thinks Jordan Schmitzer is gonna kill Scott because Kyle Bostic said his name.”
The other two men then exited the house with a frantic Bostic saying they had to leave. Schmitzer was holding a long gun and got behind the wheel of Engelhardt’s DeVille, while the other four drove off in the van. The quintet drove the two vehicles to a grassy field and parked, with Schmitzer putting the long gun in the van.
“I was crying,” Harrison said. “I was like, ‘Did Scott really get killed?’ Kyle was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, he got shot.’ I didn’t hear a gunshot, so I didn’t believe it at first.”
Back at the Lords’ house, the group unloaded their purloined property. Ultimately, they were told by Patricia R. Lord — Faith Lord’s mother — to return to the crime scene and burn it to erase evidence implicating them, Harrison said. Patricia Lord sat in the courtroom gallery as Harrison testified but left when she mentioned this part.
Within a couple of hours, police arrested the 58-year-old Patricia Lord and the next day she was arraigned on numerous charges for her alleged role in the killing and attempted coverup.
Harrison went on to testify that after Schmitzer, Lord, and Bostic returned to the Lords’ house, Schmitzer told her he had killed Engelhardt. The gun Schmitzer used to shoot Engelhardt was then given by Patricia Lord to a son of hers, who didn’t know of its connection to the crime, Harrison said.
Law enforcement arrested the five suspects between Oct. 22 and 28. Schmitzer turned 22 on Oct. 15, Lord turned 19 the day after his arrest, and Bostic turned 24 two days before his arrest.
The defendants face the following charges:
· Jorden Schmitzer — felony murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, felony firearm, first-degree arson, and unlawful imprisonment.
Faith Lord — felony murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, felony firearm, first-degree arson, unlawful imprisonment, armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, and conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance causing death.
Nolan Croton — felony murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, felony firearm, unlawful imprisonment, first-degree home invasion, and accessory after the fact to a felony.
Kyle Bostic — felony murder, felony firearm, and unlawful imprisonment.
· Jordan Harrison — felony murder and felony firearm.
Patricia Lord — felony murder, first-degree arson, lying to a peace officer, tampering with evidence, receiving and concealing stolen firearms, and two counts of felony firearm.
Patricia Lord is to appear for a preliminary examination before Jurrens at 1:30 pm on Friday, June 3. Trial dates for the other five are pending.
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