Prosecutors May Subpoena Aretha

Aretha Franklin
Prosecutors may subpoena singer Aretha Franklin to obtain information about her home that was destroyed by a fire in October.

The Oakland County Prosecutor's Office will decide this week whether to issue an investigative subpoena that would "compel her to testify," said Assistant Prosecutor James Halushka.

Since the Oct. 25 fire, which has been ruled an arson, investigators say they have tried at least three times to interview Franklin. Her attorney, Elbert Hatchett, has answered most investigators' questions on her behalf.

Halushka said if the subpoena is issued, the only way Franklin could avoid directly answering questions would be to invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

"I wouldn't expect her to do that because she is not a suspect," Halushka told the Detroit Free Press for a Monday story.

But Hatchett said that's a possibility if Franklin is subpoenaed.

"My client has been very cooperative and we've provided more information than we could reasonably be expected to," Hatchett told The Detroit News. "If that happened, I would probably advise her to take the Fifth.

"I mean, who knows what they're trying to do? We have already answered a list of questions. But she's not going to sit for something like that. No."

Franklin was on tour in Houston when fire swept through the 10,000-square-foot home in Bloomfield Township.

The investigation showed that an accelerant was used to start the fire in three locations on the first floor of the $1.6 million home.

Police have one suspect - a man walking near the home the morning of the fire. He was questioned and released.

In a statement Monday, Franklin said she was "disappointed and puzzled" to hear about the possible subpoena, and said she had answered all investigators' questions sent to her attorneys.

The singer said she was out of town performing at concerts when investigators tried to speak to her.

"Issuing press releases for television news and daily newspapers to make me look uncooperative is simply not fair, true or necessary," she said. "My attorneys will be in touch with them."