Watch CBS News

Opening statements presented in the murder trial of Detroit synagogue leader Samantha Woll

Jury selected, opening statement begin in Samantha Woll murder trial
Jury selected, opening statement begin in Samantha Woll murder trial 02:53

(CBS DETROIT) – The trial of Michael Jackson-Bolanos, who is accused of murdering Detroit synagogue leader Samantha Woll, is underway with a jury seated and opening statements presented on Tuesday.

Jackson-Bolanos faces charges of felony murder, first-degree home invasion, and lying to the police. 

Prosecutors claim Jackson-Bolanos killed Woll in October 2023 while prowling her neighborhood to steal, pointing to crucial evidence such as Woll's blood on his jacket and his presence near her home during the crime. 


"There is a reason that we lock our doors at night when we go to sleep is because of people who lurk in the night people who could do us harm," said Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Ryan Elsey. "And this case is about one such person, a person who you will see on one particular night, prowling through our community, looking for opportunities to go into spaces that weren't his to go into and to take things that were not his to take. And the most important thing that he ended up taking that night was the life of a woman, a woman named Samantha Woll."

The defense argues that the timeline of events makes it impossible for Jackson-Bolanos to have committed the crime and suggests it was a crime of passion involving a struggle in Woll's apartment. 

"The timeframe that they say that this happened in– it's virtually impossible for him to come in there and stab her that many times. Beat her up in less than a minute. And then he's seen on camera at 4:23 a.m., not 4:24 a.m. at 4:23 a.m.–walking in front of Greektown Casino, walking towards individuals who were outside striking, made no attempt whatsoever to conceal himself had even been involved in a bloody murder. Surely, you're not going to walk towards people, you will be covered in blood. People would notice that as you want by somebody being covered in blood after the way that crime scene looked," Brian Brown, defense attorney for Michael Jackson-Bolanos, said.

The trial is scheduled to last three and a half weeks, with testimony starting Wednesday morning. 

The jury consists of 16 members, predominantly men, with four alternates to be chosen later.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.