Anger over rent payments led a man to shoot and kill two people in southern Tuscola County in March, the suspect told investigators in the days following the crimes.
The trial for Adam Michael Balcer, 37, of Millington, began with jury selection Tuesday, and continued on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The trial – presided over by Circuit Court Judge Amy Grace Gierhart – is scheduled to last two weeks at the Tuscola County Courthouse.
Balcer is accused of the March 30 shooting deaths of 45-year-old Peter Brodick Jr. and 55-year-old Wendy Brodick in what were Tuscola County’s first homicides since 2013.
Balcer has pleaded not guilty to 17 counts, including two counts of open murder.
Michigan State Police Detective Lt. Andrew Longuski interviewed Balcer twice, on March 31 and April 1 – Easter Sunday. On March 31, Balcer told the detective – in a taped interview that was played Thursday for the jury – that he went to Brodick Jr.’s home, at 9884 Boucher Road on North Lake in Watertown Township, to talk about a rent dispute.
“I honestly thought I was going to just scare him,” Balcer tells Longuski. “He didn’t scare easy.”
Balcer went on to explain that he and Brodick Jr. began to “tussle.” Balcer said he took a hand gun to the residence, which is down Boucher Road from where Balcer rented a home from Wendy Brodick.
“I didn’t think it was going to go off,” Balcer says in the taped interview. “I thought I had to push (the trigger) hard, I didn’t think a little shaking would do it.”
It was determined that Brodick Jr. was killed between 10 a.m. and noon on Friday, March 30. At the time of the March 31 interview, investigators did not know that Wendy Brodick was missing, having received information that she may be in California.
By the morning of Sunday, April 1, it was discovered that Wendy Brodick was missing. So Longuski interviewed Balcer again, and that video recording also was played Thursday for the jury.
In that interview, Balcer admits to shooting Wendy Brodick twice before confronting Brodick Jr.
Balcer told Longuski that when he walked to the residence at 9884 Boucher, where both victims lived, Wendy Brodick was sitting in her truck. Balcer said he couldn’t remember whether Wendy Brodick began driving on her own, or if he instructed her to drive. After a mile or two, Balcer told Longuski, the suspect shot Wendy Brodick twice in the head while she was driving.
“I slid over to the driver seat,” Balcer says in the video. “I didn’t know what the (explicative) to do so I took her to the first place I knew.”
Balcer said in the video that he pulled the truck up to the 3900 block of Millington Road in Millington Township, where he “dragged her and piled stuff on top of her.”
Investigators went to the scene and discovered Wendy Brodick’s body buried under boards near a silo and dilapidated barn.
Balcer then drove the truck back to 9884 Boucher Road, where the fatal encounter with Brodick Jr. happened. The shootings of March 30 occurred between 10 a.m. and noon, investigators believe.
In the March 31 interview, Balcer told Longuski that after shooting Brodick Jr., he had driven to a Walmart store in Clio, and disposed of the firearm used by tossing it into the back of a random pickup truck. He later corrected himself and told the detective that the gun was placed in a pond on the east side of Sheridan Road, south of Millington Road, in Millington Township.
The firearm, a .22-caliber handgun, was recovered by Michigan State Police troopers.
Prior to Longuski’s testimony Thursday, the prosecution called Michigan State Police Detective David Vergison to the witness stand, where he was cross-examined by Tuscola County Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Eric Wanink, who is prosecuting the case along with Tuscola County Prosecutor Mark Reene.
Vergison – a member of the MSP cyber crimes unit – testified that he extracted information from Balcer’s cellular phone.
Wanink asked if there were any key words or phrases that he searched for on the device.
“In this examination I was looking for indicators or references to a .22-caliber handgun,” Vergison said. “And when I searched for that information through the phone extraction I found something interesting on Google search history that occurred on the date of the incident.”
Vergison said his investigation revealed that between 7 and 8 a.m. on March 30, someone searched the phrase “what does a .22 caliber do to a person” on the Google search engine.
“It appeared that the search had been executed more than once,” Vergison said. “But there were other subsequent websites that were visited.”
Autopsies on both victims were performed at McLaren Lapeer Region Hospital on Monday, April 2, by Dr. Patrick Cho, a forensic pathologist, who ruled that both deaths were homicides caused by firearm.
Cho determined that Brodick Jr. was killed by a single gunshot, fired at close range, to the side of the head. He determined that either of the two gunshot wounds to Wendy Brodick’s head would have been fatal.
Balcer’s defense attorney – Caro-based Gregory Bringard – objected to Cho’s credibility as a pathology expert by noting that the doctor was been operating without certification from the state of Michigan since January 2017. Cho said the lack of certification was due to an oversight because he had inadvertently not paid proper fees to gain certification.
Gierhart overruled the objection and allowed Cho to be classified as an expert witness.
Additionally, Balcer is charged with one count of first-degree home invasion; one count of unlawful imprisonment; three counts of tampering with evidence in a criminal case; three counts of possession of a firearm by a felon; one count of possession of ammunition by a felon; and six counts of possession of a weapon while committing a felony, in this case, a pistol.
On March 1, Wendy Brodick filed a complaint in Tuscola County District Court to evict Balcer from the rental property at 9676 Boucher Road. As a result, she and Balcer were summoned to a district court hearing on the matter scheduled for March 16, but Balcer didn’t show up.
On March 26, District Court Judge Fred Borchard ruled in favor of Wendy Brodick – by default since Balcer was a no-show – ruling that she had the right to evict Balcer and reclaim the property at 9676 Boucher Road.
According to court documents, Wendy Brodick claimed Balcer hadn’t paid rent, which was due on the first of each month, since December 2017 and owed $1,795 in back rent. Rent for the house was $850 per month and Balcer had signed a lease through June, according to the documents.
At the time of his arrest, Balcer was listed by the Michigan Department of Corrections as a probation absconder.
The trial will not commence on Monday as the courthouse will be closed due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. It will resume Tuesday morning.
John Schneider is editor of The Advertiser and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.