9/4/14 - After a lengthy legal appeal, the case against a man charged with a Livingston County murder nearly three years ago will be back in court Friday. 30-year-old George Tanner is charged with the murder of Christopher Townsend on October 15th of 2011. Authorities say he and a co-defendant, Brian Stafford, dismembered and then burned the body of the 40-year-old Oakland County man on a wooded property owned by Tanner’s uncle in Green Oak Township. Police say Tanner confessed to the crime while in custody, but the defense argued that confession was inadmissible because a lawyer previously requested by Tanner was waiting to see him, but police did not inform him of that fact. Circuit Court Judge David Reader agreed with that claim, which was backed up by a previous Michigan Supreme Court ruling in the case of the People v. Bender, which said a suspect must be told promptly when an attorney attempts to contact them. Prosecutors appealed that decision to the state’s highest court which by a 5-2 vote overturned People v. Bender, saying Tanner knowingly waived his Miranda rights when he reinitiated contact with police to make his confession. The case is now set for a pre-trial hearing Friday morning in front of Judge Reader. A trial date is expected to be set following the hearing. Stafford was previously sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to 2nd degree murder.
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