Prosecutor: Witness in Detroit road rage shot and killed

Prosecutor: Witness in Detroit road rage case shot and killed

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YPSILANTI TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WJBK) -

There has been a deadly twist nearly a month after a road rage shooting in Detroit.  One of the shooting victims was supposed to testify in court, but the man was murdered Tuesday night.

"Unfortunately, the people have to report to this court that one of victims in this case, Mr. Brandon Charles, was shot and killed last night," a prosecutor told the judge Wednesday morning.

28-year-old Brandon Charles of Ypsilanti Township was scheduled to testify against two men.  Instead, Charles was murdered around 9:50 p.m. Tuesday at a friend's home in Ypsilanti Township.  He was shot in the torso in his car in the driveway.

"It's a surprise to everybody," Courtney told me.

She said Charles was at the home visiting her brother when he was killed.

However, this wasn't the first time he had been shot.  On New Year's Day around 3:00 a.m., Charles and his girlfriend were leaving the MGM Grand Casino when they were involved in a road rage incident near Third and Bagley, cars cutting each other off.  At I-94 near Junction they were shot.

Michigan State Police arrested 30-year-old Willie Lee Wimberly, charged with assault with intent to murder, and 33-year-old Steve Deshaun Smith-Rush, charged with being an accessory after the fact.

Charles was supposed to testify against them, but even investigators were surprised by what they heard.

"Usually we don't end up showing up for a preliminary exam and finding out that one of the victims has been murdered," said MSP Lieutenant Michael Shaw.

Michigan State Police say both Wimberly and Smith-Rush have been out on bond.  They remain out on bond.

Wimberly's rap sheet is full of weapons charges -- drugs, resisting an officer, assault.  In 2003, he was even charged with first-degree murder.  A jury found him not guilty.

As for Smith-Rush, pass convictions include carrying a concealed weapon, armed robbery and carjacking.

Investigators are trying to determine if what happened in that Ypsilanti Township driveway is related to the road rage case.  They're asking anyone with any information to contact the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department, state police or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.

As for Charles, he has an extensive history of contact with police, as well -- drugs, weapons, assault -- and it's not yet clear why he was gunned down Tuesday night.

"Brandon was a very nice... loving person, and it's very sad," said Courtney.

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