Man gets 10 years in Dukes murder case

WARREN – A Detroit man who struck a deal earlier to testify against another man who used a modified assault rifle to gun down Marco Dukes of Warren in 2012 was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years behind bars.

”I’m sorry to the court, the citizens of Warren and to the family of Marco Dukes for being part of the situation,” said 27-year-old Dale Hatch. ”I’m sorry I didn’t stop it. I could have.”

Hatch’s attorney John Juhasz said everyone involved in the shooting knew each other. ”It started with someone trying to get their belongings. It escalated. My client’s remorse is genuine.”

Hatch and Derrick Peete, 23, also of Detroit, were both charged in Dukes’ murder during what police said was a major gun battle involving the illegal drug trade in downtown Warren on Nov. 11, 2012.

Both also were charged with felonious assault and attempted aggravated murder in connection with the shooting of Dukes’ cousin, Larry A. Smith, 29, who was wounded in the gunfire.

Assistant county prosecutor Chris Becker said that Hatch was offered the plea deal in exchange for cooperating with the prosecution and testifying against Peete at his trial scheduled last month before Judge Ronald Rice.

Instead of a trial, Peete pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and other charges and was sentenced by Rice to life in prison with a possible parole after 15 years.

Hatch had already pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of involuntary manslaughter with a firearms specification, tampering with evidence, attempted murder and other charges.

He was originally charged with aggravated murder, but prosecutors pointed out that Hatch got off one shot with a 9 mm and the gun jammed. Meanwhile, Dukes, 32, also got off a few shots with his own weapon as four, or possibly five, men were behind an apartment house on Elm Road between High Street and East Market Street. The bullet-riddled house has since been torn down.

Hatch’s plea deal spelled out that he was to get 10 years if he cooperated.

Becker said earlier police and prosecutors are unable to prove with balistics evidence whether the one shot that Hatch fired hit Dukes or Smith.

Prosecutors say Hatch and Peete ran from the scene in a northwest direction, at one point disturbing congregation members of a local Greek Orthodox church. One church member even delayed Hatch, who was eventually caught by police after throwing the pistol under a porch near Cross Radio on Vine Avenue N.E.

Becker praised the work of several Warren police officers and detectives on the case.