95.3 / 88.5 FM Grand Rapids and 95.3 FM Muskegon
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Teen faces adult murder charge in slaying of Michigan election canvasser

Wikimedia Commons

The 15-year-old who was charged with murder also faces gun charges.

A 15-year-old has been charged as an adult with murder in the death of a Michigan election canvasser he is accused of shooting after asking the worker for a dollar.

The teen was arraigned Wednesday in district court in Lansing and ordered held without bond. Court records Thursday did not list a defense attorney for the teen, who The Associated Press is not naming due to his age.

Ingham County Prosecutor John Dewane said Theodore Lawson's slaying Sunday does not appear to be connected to his political activities or beliefs. Lawson, 63, was a member of Ingham County’s Board of Canvassers and served as secretary of the county’s Democratic Party.

Lansing police have not released any details around the circumstances of the shooting, but Lansing City Council at-large candidate Trini Lopez Pehlivanoglu told the Lansing State Journal that Lawson was knocking on doors for her campaign when he was shot. He later was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Security video in the area recorded Lawson leaving a driveway as three teens were walking on the other side of the street, a police detective wrote in a court affidavit.

One of the three crossed the street toward Lawson before he and Lawson walked out of the camera's view. A short time later a gunshot was heard. The video then recorded the three teens running away.

A juvenile court officer later identified each of the teens in the video. One teen told investigators he saw the 15-year-old shoot Lawson after asking Lawson for a dollar, according to the affidavit.

The other two teens are 15 and 17. A .22-caliber handgun was recovered in the home where the 15-year-old charged with murder was found. He denied being involved in the shooting, the affidavit said.

The 15-year-old who was charged with murder also faces gun charges. A probable cause conference has been scheduled for Oct. 20.

Lansing Police Dept. Chief Ellery Sosebee said in a statement that Lawson’s murder was “senseless” and “speaks to the careless mindset of a very small section of our most violent offenders.”

“ ... too often, these acts of violence, are by youthful offenders with no value of consequence or accountability,” Sosebee wrote. “Based on the evidence gathered, the suspect’s intent was to get money from the victim in an attempted robbery. There is no evidence or information this was related to any political motive or affiliation.”

Dewane, the county prosecutor, said he opted to charge the teen as an adult due to the nature of the offense and his previous interactions with the court system.