WARREN - More than a dozen Trumbull County sheriff's deputies - three of them with assault rifles - lined High Street N.W. Monday as security was heightened for initial court appearances for two Detroit men accused of gunning down a local man.
Deputies transported Dale A. Hatch and Derrick Peete from Trumbull County Jail across the street to Trumbull County Common Pleas Court in a black sheriff's transport van, using a northside private entrance.
Inside, deputies ran a security sweep of Judge W. Wyatt McKay's courtroom and then stood by while Hatch and Peete pleaded not guilty to a series of charges, including aggravated murder in connection with the Nov. 11 shooting death of Marco Dukes Sr., 32, of Warren.
Dale A. Hatch, left, confers with his attorney, John Juhasz, Monday afternoon before the start of the arraignment proceedings on murder charges in Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge W. Wyatt McKay’s courtroom.
Both men, are charged in the death of Dukes who was murdered on Elm Court N.E., are being held in lieu of $2.5 million bond.
Hatch's case was assigned to McKay, who appointed attorney John Juhasz to represent the defendant. He is scheduled for a pretrial on Dec. 19.
Peete's case was assigned to Judge John M. Stuard, who is retiring next month and who is being replaced by Judge Ronald Rice. Peete said his family was tentatively arranging for him to be represented by attorney Heidi Hanni at a pre-trial Dec. 13.
Both men were indicted Friday.
Hatch, 25, of Detroit, is facing charges of aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder and felonious assault, all with firearm specifications, and tampering with evidence and receiving stolen property.
Indictments also identify Hatch as going by the name ''Black.''
Peete, 22, of Webb Avenue S.W., Warren, and also of Detroit, is facing charges of aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder and felonious assault, all with firearm specifications, improperly discharging a firearm at or into a habitation and having weapons while under disability.
Indictments also identify him as ''Rizzi.''
A third man, Reginald Baldwin, also of Detroit, was arrested in the murder, but later released from jail. Prosecutors said he will not be charged because they do not have enough evidence to charge him.
Dukes was transported by a helicopter to a Cleveland hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
His cousin, Larry Smith, 29, of Warren, was wounded as both stood on or near a rear stairway leading to home on Elm Court. Smith was treated at Trumbull Memorial Hospital, but was released last week.
Detectives have described the shooting as a ''major gun battle,'' indicating that at least three people involved had high-powered weapons and Dukes may have returned gunfire as he and an unarmed Smith were apparently ambushed behind the home.
Gunfire broke out just before 10:30 a.m. that morning, according to reports. Officers recovered nearly 50 shell casings from various weapons in a parking lot in that area.
Prosecutors said that the investigation is ongoing.
Hatch and Peete each have criminal histories in Detroit. Peete has also been convicted of drug-related crimes in Warren.
When he was arrested in connection with Sunday's shooting on Tuesday, Peete had been free on a $6,000 bond on a felony heroin possession charge filed earlier this year. He was scheduled for a preliminary hearing in that case on Nov. 27.
Peete was sentenced by Trumbull County Judge Peter Kontos to one year in prison after he pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated drug trafficking and one count of aggravated drug possession in 2009.
Hatch was sentenced to probation after being convicted in 2005 on two counts of receiving a stolen vehicle, according to online court records from the Third Judicial Circuit of Michigan.