Defendant in Samantha Woll Murder Case Takes Stand, Says He Stumbled Upon Her Dead Body Outdoors

July 03, 2024, 9:51 AM by  Allan Lengel

Michael Jackson-Bolanos takes the stand.

Michael Jackson-Bolanos took the stand on Wednesday on his own behalf, testifying that he stumbled upon the dead body of downtown Detroit synagogue president Samantha Woll outside her townhouse, touched her neck and got blood on his right hand. He said he later touched a backpack.

When asked by his attorney Brian Brown whether he killed the 40-year-old Woll on Oct. 21, he said, "absolutely not." He said never was in her townhouse in Lafayette Park where authorities believe she was stabbed repeatedly before stumbling outside.

Jackson-Bolanos, 29, wearing a tan suit with vest and white shirt buttoned to the top, and appearing composed, tesitified in Wayne County Circuit Court that he touched Woll to see if she was OK. He said when he realized she wasn't, he ran off, saying it wouldn't look good that he, a Black man, had stumbled across a dead body, or that he was in the neighborhoood in the early morning hours breaking into cars.

He said he had previous convictions for car-related crimes and was fearful of getting busted and sentenced as a habitual offender, which can result in a more severe sentence. 

His testimony contradicted comments he made to homocide investigators late last year after he was arrested. He said he never saw a dead body that evening. He also initially told them that he had not stolen anything from cars when in fact he had. 

"There was nobody out there," he told homicide investigators about a body. "I didn't see anyone laying down."

But he said after his second arrest in the case he told an investigator that he stumbled upon a body. 

He testified that he was out taking photos of Dodge cars to possibly steal at a later date. He also said that he was breaking into unlocked cars and stealing what he could. He said he was wearing surgical gloves he found inside a vehicle to prevent his fingerprints from showing up on cars.

He also said he avoided going into anyone's house. He said he was looking to avoid confrontation, and that he never had a knife that night. But the second time he was arrested, he was found with a knife in his jacket pocket. 

The prosecution has accused him of stabbing Woll eight times that night. They've presented cell phone and security video showing he was in the area at the time, and investigative reports, which show spots of  Woll's blood on his North Face jacket and a backpack. The spots on the coat were found after the coat had been washed. 

He said he never denied being in the area.

But he explained that he lied to investigators and got more defensive when they lied to him and said they had evidence that he was in Woll's home in Lafayette Park.

The defense also played a recorded phone conversation from jail in which he repeatedly told his girlfriend he was essentially being framed and that he did not murder Woll.

He also told her she should never have washed his North Face jacket, which had Woll's blood on it, because there was nothing to hide. Investigators found blood on the coat after it was washed.

"This shit is frustaitng bro...," he told his girfriend. "I'm fucking innocent. I didn't do shit to nobody."

"I don't do no weird shit to women."

Jackson-Bolanos did not finish his testimony Wednesday. He will take the stand on Monday when the trial resumes. 

The prosecution will then get a chance during cross examination to question Jackson-Bolanos and try to undermine the credibility of his testimony. 


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