Defendants to appear together in court for death of student
New details about Detroit resident Dishon Tyran Ambrose, one of two men allegedly responsible for the death of MSU freshman Olivia Pryor, emerged Tuesday as prosecution and defense went head-to-head in 54B District Court, 101 Linden St.
In March, Pryor was found dead in her Hubbard Hall dorm room and MSU police determined both alcohol and criminal sexual conduct were factors.
Ambrose, 19, faces a felony charge of selling or furnishing to a minor causing death.
A second suspect, Marquez Dominique Cannon, faces charges of criminal sexual conduct, injury to an incapacitated victim, selling or furnishing to a minor causing death and criminal sexual conduct, force or coercion for Pryor’s death.
During his court appearance, Ambrose’s attorney, Sheldon Halpern, argued to schedule his client’s pretrial for the week of July 30 instead of Aug. 14 – the same day as Cannon’s. Halpern said he did not want the two men to be presented as co-defendants in the case because Cannon faces serious criminal sexual conduct charges.
Because Ambrose and Cannon have one similar charge – furnishing alcohol to a minor causing death – and both cases would require many of the same witnesses, Judge David Jordan ruled that both men will appear in court on Aug. 14 for a pretrial and Aug. 17 for a preliminary examination.
Halpern also argued to lower Ambrose’s bond from $250,000. He presented several letters from Ambrose’s friends, family and former employers to attest to his character.
Citing many of the letters, Halpern described Ambrose as “a young man who’s going somewhere” in life, using terms such as wonderful, trustworthy and compassionate to express Ambrose’s character.
“I know the remorse he feels is strong,” Halpern said on behalf of Ambrose, adding that his client and Pryor were close friends.
Debra Rousseau, Ingham County’s criminal sexual conduct prosecutor, argued there might have been a side of Ambrose his friends and family didn’t know.
“This is an ongoing investigation, and new information is found every week,” Rousseau said.
Rousseau said there is sufficient evidence that although Ambrose did not commit the sexual conduct, he helped Cannon by cleaning up the blood from Pryor’s alleged rape, discarding towels and clothes and providing transportation to leave the scene.
She said Ambrose has confessed to police that he furnished alcohol for Pryor and played the drinking games that led to her death.
“Due to his admission that he brought the alcohol with Marquez Cannon to the room and participated in those events, he is very likely to be convicted of this high-level-severity felony,” Rousseau said.
Rousseau also cited as evidence Ambrose’s tweets regarding his feeling on rape.
Referencing the children’s television show “Dora the Explorer,” she said Ambrose tweeted: “If Swiper the fox was a real (racial epithet), he would’ve raped Dora the Explorer,” which Rousseau said doesn’t appear to be the sentiments of the type of bright young man Ambrose’s friends and family had described in their letters.
Jordan said Ambrose has no prior record, no history of substance abuse and no mental issues, but because of Ambrose’s “dangerous behavior” and likelihood of being convicted, Jordan denied the request to lower his bond.