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Iraq War Vet Faces Hearing, Charged With Murder In Neighbor’s Death In Dispute Over Dog

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Charles Simkins faces a preliminary hearing in 52-1 District Court. (credit: Jon Hewett/WWJ)

Charles Simkins faces a preliminary hearing in 52-1 District Court. (credit: Jon Hewett/WWJ)

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NOVI (WWJ) – Could post traumatic stress disorder have played a role in a dispute that led a Walled Lake man, and former U.S. Marine, to shoot and kill his neighbor?

Charles Simkins, 28, who faces open murder and felony weapons charges in the death of 45-year-old Edwin Criswell, was in court Wednesday for a preliminary hearing before 52-1 District Judge Dennis Powers in Novi.

Criswell bled to death in front of his home on Sigma Street last December after he was shot in the leg by Simkins. Police said the two men, who were next door neighbors, were arguing about Simkins’ dog which had wandered into Criswell’s yard.

Defense council Todd Flood said Simkins is remorseful.

“He was the one who called 911; he was the one screaming for help,” Flood said, of his client. “You heard that (on a tape played in court) … he kept on asking, ‘How is he?’ So, you can hear where he was at.”

Flood said Criswell, a Marine gunner, served his country “valiantly” and he was clearly affected by his time in the Iraq.

“It’s very seldom, if ever, someone doesn’t come out of a war without PTSD,” Flood said. “And one of the things that happens is is your body goes on a hyper alert when things approach them.”

“So, you have to look at this case not as Joe Six Pack, you know, Monday morning quarterbacking,” Flood added. “You have to look at this event as it takes place in the person’s eyes who was sitting there.”

Testimony in the case to determine if Simkins will stand trial is set to resume next week.

“It goes without saying that there are no winners in the courtroom,” Flood said. “I call it the Valley of Tears. It’s a sad day for everybody.”

If the case makes it to trial, Flood will try to have his client’s statement to police following the shooting thrown out. Flood said Simkins, after hearing his Miranda rights, mentioned wanting to speak to an attorney about a dozen times during the hour-long interview.

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