PLYMOUTH, Mich. – One of two teens facing murder charges in the brutal burning and beheading of a sex offender told police he helped the other suspect with the slaying in order to clear a $100 debt, the Detroit News reports.
Alexander James Letkemann, 18, told police that fellow suspect Jean Pierre "JP" Orlewicz, 17, told him that he would erase the debt if he helped him dispose of the body, according to a statement read in court by Canton Township Police Det. Michael Sekel during a preliminary examination held Friday.
Following the hearing, a judge ruled there is enough evidence to hold both teens for trial on charges of first-degree premeditated murder and mutilation of a corpse in the death of Daniel Sorensen, 26, but he tossed a separate felony murder charge following the preliminary examination. Their circuit court arraignment will be held Dec. 14.
The grisly details of Sorensen's final hours emerged as Letkemann's police statements were revealed in court, the News reported.
"Me and JP hung out at his grandpa's house. I drove. He discussed with me his plan to lure Dan over and killing him," Letkemann told police. "All I had to do was clean up. I would have no part in the actual act. He would call it even for the hundred dollars I owed him [Orlewicz]."
Letkemann placed the blame for the murder squarely on Orlewicz, according to his statement to police.
"I don't know why he had it out so bad for that guy," Letkemann said tearfully in a video recording made by police, the News reports. "It's almost like he just wanted to kill somebody."
Letkemann described events, according to the News report, saying "JP shut the door behind him and just did it ... I couldn't even react to it. It knocked the wind out of me."
Earlier, a high school senior testified that he thought Orlewicz was kidding when asking for help in moving the body.
"I asked them if it was a joke, and they said no," said Isam Ayyash, who testified about his role in events surrounding the Nov. 7 slaying.
Ayyash said Sorensen's body was wrapped in a tarp in the Canton Township garage of Orlewicz's grandfather. Sorensen was stabbed at least 13 times in the garage, prosecutors say.
"We walked in the garage, and [Orlewicz] indicated Dan's body was in the tarp," Ayyash said.
Ayyash also said Orlewicz pointed to a blue and white container in the garage and told him Sorensen's head was inside it. Orlewicz and Letkemann finished wrapping up the body, lifted it and put it in the back of a pickup truck parked in the garage, he said.
"[Orlewicz] asked to borrow my clothing because his was covered in blood," Ayyash said. "I gave him my undershirt and jeans."
Ayyash said Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Robert Moran offered him immunity as an accessory to a homicide after the fact if he told the truth on the stand.
The Wayne County medical examiner's office says an autopsy revealed Sorensen already was dead before his body was burned and beheaded.
When prosecutors showed photos of Sorensen's corpse, Letkemann slumped in his chair and shielded his face with his hand. Orlewicz looked at the photos with little outward emotion.
Sorensen's girlfriend, Breana Milow, 20, testified earlier Friday that he occasionally carried a revolver and a knife and expected to collect $3,000 on the day he was killed.
"It was for his protection," Milow said of the gun. "He used it whenever he went to do a job."
Milow testified that Sorensen had gone to the garage the day he was killed to extort money from someone Orlewicz knew.
Milow also testified that Sorensen told her he had gone to the garage earlier that week, and the floors and windows were covered with a tarp.
The defense argued it was hearsay, and District Judge Michael Gerou did not allow the statement into evidence.
"I really didn't want to know the details about the job," Milow said.
Orlewicz's lawyer, James C. Thomas, says his client's ultimate defense is that Sorensen's actions resulted in his death.
The murder charges carry mandatory sentences of life in prison. Mutilating a corpse carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.