Adam Michael Balcer, in the midst of his trial on two counts of open murder, took to the witness stand Tuesday and presented a slightly different version of events than what he told investigators in the days following the March 30 shooting deaths of 45-year-old Peter Brodick Jr. and 55-year-old Wendy Brodick.
The jury trial for Balcer, 37, of Millington, began with jury selection Tuesday, Jan. 16, and continued throughout last week before resuming Tuesday. The trial – presided over by Circuit Court Judge Amy Grace Gierhart – may wrap-up with closing arguments today.
Balcer is charged with 17 felonies in connection with the homicides – Tuscola County’s first since 2013. The term “open murder” allows a suspect to be convicted of different types of murder or manslaughter charges.
The prosecution, led by Tuscola County Prosecutor Mark Reene, is attempting to convince the 10-woman, four-man jury that Balcer is guilty of first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the chance of parole.
To prove this, Reene is tasked with convincing the jury that Balcer planned the killings in advance. Balcer’s attorney – Caro-based Gregory Bringard – admits that his client killed Wendy Brodick and Brodick Jr., but argues that it wasn’t premeditated, but rather happened in the heat of the moment, which would likely result in the crime of second-degree murder.
What is known is that Balcer shot Wendy Brodick and Brodick Jr. sometime between 10 a.m. and noon on March 30. Wendy Brodick was killed by two gunshot wounds to the head, which she received while sitting in the driver seat of her pickup truck. Her body was then taken by Balcer to an area in the 3900 block of Millington Road in Millington Township, and placed near a silo and dilapidated barn before being covered with wooden boards. He then returned in Wendy Brodick’s truck to the residence Wendy Brodick shared with Brodick Jr. at 9884 Boucher Road on North Lake in Watertown Township and shot Brodick Jr. once in the head.
Balcer rented a home from Wendy Brodick on Boucher Road about a quarter-mile north of the Brodick residence.
In the days following his arrest, Balcer admitted to the killings in videotaped recordings to investigators, saying that he had been angry with Wendy Brodick over a rent dispute.
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.
On Tuesday, Balcer testified that he had settled the rent dispute with Wendy Brodick on March 29, the night before the killings. In turn, he said, there was no reason for him to be angry with Wendy Brodick, much less want to kill her.
On the witness stand, Balcer said that he simply wished to speak with Wendy Brodick the morning of March 30, and the two went for a drive with Wendy at the wheel in her pickup truck. During the conversation Balcer said he got angry and shot her. In the taped interview, Balcer told investigators that he had shot Wendy Brodick twice while she was driving, moved her body to the passenger seat, and continued driving the pickup. On Tuesday, Balcer said he had exited the vehicle and reached in the open passenger vehicle window, shooting Wendy Brodick twice at close range.
Balcer then said he didn’t return to the Brodick residence to kill Brodick Jr., but rather to inform him that he had killed Wendy Brodick. Following a brief tussle, Brodick Jr. was shot in the side of the head, Balcer said.
On Thursday, Dr. Patrick Cho, the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsies on Wendy Brodick and Brodick Jr., testified that he 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. He also said that both the wound to Brodick Jr. and one of the wounds to Wendy Brodick were likely fired while the pistol was pressed up against their flesh.
Reene did not buy Balcer’s version of the story, telling the jury that Balcer planned to kill the two in advance because of hatred he had toward them due to the rent dispute. He also questioned why Balcer had not told anyone prior that he had worked out the rent dispute with Wendy Brodick the night before the murders.
While Balcer was on the stand, Reene asked “(Investigators) had found shortly after 7 o’clock (a.m.) that you had done a (Google search on his cell phone) for ‘what does a .22-caliber do to a person.’”
“Correct,” Balcer said.
“And that’s the same day you shot Wendy Brodick in the head twice?” Reene asked.
“Correct,” Balcer said.
“And that’s the same day that you shot Peter Brodick in the head once?” Reene then asked.
“Correct,” Balcer answered.
Reene asked Balcer why he walked to the Brodick residence on March 30.
“I wasn’t going down there to kill them,” Balcer said.
“Even though you just looked up a couple of hours earlier ‘what would a .22-caliber do to a person?” Reese asked.
“That had nothing to do with it,” Balcer replied.
“That had nothing to do with it, that was just a coincidence?” Reene asked.
“Correct,” Balcer said.
“Just a coincidence that on the day you shot both victims in the head, with People’s Exhibit 110, this pistol right here, on that day you shot Wendy and Peter in the head with this gun, you happened to search ‘what does a .22-caliber gun do to a person,’” Reene asked.
“Yes,” Balcer replied.
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.
At the time of his arrest, Balcer was listed by the Michigan Department of Corrections as a probation absconder.
John Schneider is editor of The Advertiser and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.