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Detroit – Closing arguments have begun in the trial of a Detroit man accused of murdering local Jewish leader Samantha Woll during an alleged burglary.

Michael Jackson-Bolanos, 29, insists he did not kill Woll but saw her body in the early hours of Oct. 21, 2023. In his own defense testimony last week and on Monday, Jackson-Bolanos said he found Woll when he returned to Detroit’s Lafayette Park neighborhood to retrieve a backpack he had stolen earlier in the night.

He touched Woll, who had suffered eight stab wounds to the neck, outside her Lafayette Park townhouse and was “not doing well.”

“When I realized I had just touched a dead person, I grabbed the bag and left,” Jackson-Bolanos testified. “… I’m a black man breaking into cars in the middle of the night, and all of a sudden I’m standing in front of a dead white woman. That’s not a good look at all.”

Jackson-Bolanos is charged with first-degree murder and murder in connection with a burglary. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

During the five-week trial, prosecutors, who called 48 witnesses to the stand, focused their evidence primarily on cellphone GPS data and surveillance footage that showed Jackson-Bolanos was near Woll’s apartment around the time her security system detected movement in her living room at 4:20 a.m. before going inactive at 4:22 a.m.

DNA tests also revealed that a small amount of Woll’s blood was found on Jackson-Bolanos’ jacket and backpack.

Brian Brown, Jackson-Bolanos’ attorney, has meanwhile claimed it would have been “virtually impossible” for his client to have committed the murder in the two-minute window authorities believe it took. He also said the manner in which Woll was killed suggests it was a crime of passion.

During his testimony, Jackson-Bolanos admitted to lying to police when he said he saw Woll outside her townhouse, but said he was afraid police would pin the murder on him.

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