Family still hopeful murder charge will be reinstated, judge yet to rule

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FLINT (WJRT) (1/9/2019) - It's been 7 months since a Davison Township mother was run over and killed.

Police say Tyesha Kemp's boyfriend hit her, but whether or not he meant to is still being decided by the judge. Her family has been on an emotional ride sitting through each hearing.

"Just being near her made you feel happier, made you feel safe, made you feel like everything was going to work out the way it should be," Ereka Bunn, Tyesha Kemp's sister said.

She said her sister is exactly the person she needs to help get her through this court case.

"I feel like the world is still going and we're stuck," Bunn said. "We're stuck in this trap of all these court dates and what's going to happen."

Davison Township police said Kemp was struck by a car, walking home in the early morning hours of June 2, 2018. Her boyfriend Brandon Merrow admits he was drunk behind the wheel.

Last September, Merrow was bound over for trial on just a 15-year felony charge of driving drunk causing death. But, Kemp's family held a protest and petitioned the prosecutor to reinstate the first-degree premeditated murder charge.

"They're very good and they're looking into every single tiny detail and that's what is needed," Bunn said of the Genesee County Prosecutor's Office.

Kemp's mom and brother took the stand Wednesday working to prove Merrow had a motive.

"He shared with me that he was pretty sure he was going to prison for the rest of his life because he believed he had hit someone with his vehicle," said Kemp's mom, Jodecia Bunn.

She told the judge she tried to calm him down and the two got in her car to go find her daughter. She testified that Merrow showed her where he had hit someone and Bunn said her daughter wasn't more than four car lengths away.

"I noticed that Tyesha's pants were not up all the way and one of her shoes were missing and she was faced down," Bunn said.

Merrow had hit and killed his girlfriend.

Wednesday was day two of the new preliminary hearing to decide whether Merrow will stand trial on the murder charge. Kemp's brother, Josiah Holmes, is the fifth new witness to take the stand.

He told the judge that he saw Merrow's car with a broken windshield, likely from where he hit Kemp.

"Did he say if you tell anyone I'm going to kill you?" the prosecutor asked. "Yes," Holmes replied. "Did you believe him?" the prosecutor continued. "Yes," he responded again.

Kemp's cousin, Typhanie Frye, attends every hearing alongside the rest of Kemp's family and countless friends. She noticed Merrow's demeanor change Wednesday.

"He kept looking up there, like he was finally understanding I did something wrong," Frye said.

Frye and Kemp's sister said the past seven months have been difficult because they're worried about her son who just turned 3 years old last month.

"He has just recently started crying out for her. That is very, very hard," Bunn said through tears. "When I can't console him and tell him that his mom is coming, I don't know what to do."

Bunn and Frye explained he's one of many reasons 15 years isn't a long enough prison sentence for Merrow.

"He will get to come home and be normal and do normal things and have retirement and have grandkids and forget this ever happened. He doesn't need to forget this ever happened," Bunn said.

Merrow's defense attorney doesn't believe his client's actions were intentional, but he said that's up to the judge to decide.

"I think the testimony is just trying to get to the truth. And, as many witnesses as we need to call, that's what we're going to do and we have no objection to that," attorney Mike Manley said.

Merrow's hearing continues with more testimony in February.

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