HOWELL (WWJ/AP) – Reported jailhouse conversations have led prosecutors to charge a man with open murder in the shooting death of a friend at a Livingston County gun club.

Twenty-year-old Jessce Stearn was arraigned on the new charge Friday in Howell District Court. A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf.

Stearn was to be sentenced next week for manslaughter in last June’s slaying of 19-year-old Charles Kimball at the Livingston Conservation and Sports Association gun range in Brighton Township, about 35 miles northwest of Detroit. The manslaughter charge has since been dropped.

Stearn told police the replica AK-47 he was using jammed and when he tried to clear it, the gun misfired and Kimball was shot in the head. Authorities say he died instantly.

Prosecutor Bill Vailliencourt, however, says new evidence points to Kimball being killed over an unpaid debt. He said the evidence was revealed in statements Stearn reportedly made to fellow inmates in the Livingston County Jail.

Stearn was ordered held without bond, pending a May 22 preliminary exam. If convicted as charged, he faces up to life in prison.

TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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