The Macomb Daily
Murder-for-hire suspect seeks to dismiss federal charges
Trial also involving 2nd alleged plot rescheduled for fall
A man accused of murderfor-hire plots in Sterling Heights and Detroit is attempting to get the charges dismissed from federal court, after which the case could get moved to state court.
Michael Rataj, the attorney for James Deshawn Williams, 50, filed a legal brief last week in U.S. District Court in Detroit seeking to get the charges tossed based on the contention Williams’ use of cell phones and vehicle did not cross state lines so it should not fall under federal jurisdiction.
The federal “indictment charges state-law murder offenses as federal capital crimes based upon an attenuated link between the mere use of a telephone or vehicle and interstate commerce,” Rataj says. “These offenses fall within the purview of traditional local police powers. It is believed to be undisputed that any use of a cell phone or vehicle in this case occurred entirely within the State of Michigan.
“In light of the fact that the Superceding Indictment fails to allege nothing more than intrastate conduct having no connection to or effect upon interstate commerce, the ‘facility of interstate commerce’ clause of (a federal statute) is unconstitutional as applied.
“The Superceding Indictment should be dismissed.”
Williams, a former Sterling Heights resident, was initially indicted in 2018 on two counts of murder-for-hire and conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire that resulted in the shooting death of Marko Berishaj, 28, on Nov. 9 while he sat in a vehicle outside Golfpointe Village Condominiums after what investigators initially thought was a bar fight earlier in the day.
Police officers found Berishaj at about 3:30 a.m. with a single gunshot wound to his chest in a vehicle at the condo complex, located at Plumbrook and Schoenherr roads. He was transported to Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township where he was pronounced dead.
He was arraigned three years later, in October 2021. Two months later, the superceding indictment added the same two charges for a different case — the injury of a man, only identified as “L.B.” No other details are provided.
In both instances, it is unclear of Williams’ exact role in the incidents.
His trial was scheduled to start Tuesday but has been moved Nov. 14, with a plea deadline of Aug. 18.