Jose R. Teneyuque, the 40-year-old Saginaw father who is accused of driving drunk and killing his own daughter in a terrible accident, will stay in jail until his trial later this month. But it will be a few days yet before the judge decides whether or not that trial will include a murder charge.
Last week, Saginaw County Circuit Judge Janet M. Boes heard arguments from both Patrick Duggan, the Assistant Prosecutor, and from Teneyuque’s attorney Alan Crawford. The arguments pertained to Crawford’s motion to quash the murder charge against his client, which was only one of several motions filed by the defense.
Once a charge has been entered against a defendant which their attorney believes is incorrect, a motion to quash can be filed which is essentially a request of the court that they render a previous decision null and void.
The motion to quash argues that, based on Michigan case history which has set a precedent in this instance, being a drunk driver does not immediately equate to being murderer, and that drunk driving alone is not enough evidence to prove that there was malice. Crawford is claiming that in order for Teneyuque to face a murder charge, the state would need to establish that he intended to harm or kill someone with his drunk driving.
According to the defense, the only reason the charge made it past the district court was because the presiding judge at the time, Judge Kyle Higgs Tarrant, had no knowledge of the most prominent precedent setting case, and chose to err on the side of caution. But Assistant Prosecutor Duggan argued that the judge never claimed to be unfamiliar with the case, she simply said she hadn’t printed out a copy of it to have it available.
Under Michigan law, in order to charge someone with second degree murder, the state must first “establish malice”, which means that the state is required to prove that the accused knew that their actions would very likely result in someone’s death, but they did it anyway.
Duggan pointed out that the testimony provided by Ryan Balash, a witness who encountered Teneyuque while he was driving on the night of the accident, and who claims that the defendant was speeding and swerving repeatedly, should be sufficient to prove malice. This, says Duggan, is clear evidence that Teneyuque’s actions went beyond regular drunk driving.
After hearing all of the arguments, Judge Boes decided to hold off on making a decision until she has had a chance to read all of the arguments and counter arguments presented by the attorneys. Another motion hearing in the case is scheduled for this coming Friday, January 23.