Suspect arraigned in road rage shooting death

(WXYZ) - Derek Flemming had just gone out for lunch with his wife Amy in Howell. They then went to pick up their kids from elementary school.  They never made it together.

The 43-year-old was shot in the middle of Grand River on Tuesday. The reason? Investigators say it was road rage.

On Thursday afternoon, the suspected shooter Martin Zale, 69, of Marion Township, was arraigned in Livingston County Court. The charges against him include open murder, felony firearms charges, and firearm discharge from a vehicle. If convicted on all counts he faces life in prison. The magistrate ordered he be held with no bond.

Zale's defense attorney said he had no criminal record, lived with his wife, and was a productive member of society.

"This is a man who has lived in the community his whole life," said his defense attorney Melissa Pearce of Milford. "This is not a man prone to violence."

Prone to violence or not, the family of the man killed said Zale committed violence that cost them all dearly.

Attorney William Moore, the designated spokesperson for the Flemming family, said that Amy and Derek Flemming saw a man tailgating them. Amy said they pulled to the right so the man could pass on the left. The man instead tried to pass on the right and almost hit them. 

When they stopped at a red light Derek Flemming got out of their vehicle and confronted the driver saying, “What’s your problem?”

Witnesses tell 7 Action News they heard the drivers yelling, and then there was a gunshot.  Flemming died at Grand River and Chilson in Genoa Township. His wife was by his side.

Livingston County Dispatchers got so many calls from witnesses out on the busy roadway, many got a busy signal. After hearing what witnesses have to say Livingston County Prosecutor William Vailliencourt, Jr. said it was clear Zale took it too far.

"The law is specific. You have to have honest and reasonable fear that you are in imminent danger of great bodily harm or death," said Vailliencourt. "You can't just shoot someone because you are unhappy with them."

As Zale faced arraignment, Flemming's daughter had to make it through her birthday knowing her dad was gone.

A post on the "Derek Flemming Memorial Page" on Facebook read, "Today is our beautiful daughter's birthday. My heart aches in so many ways. Yesterday she told my mom that 'a bullet killed Daddy. I thought he was made of iron.' Oh how horrible that young, innocent minds have to learn the reality that their parents are not invincible. I know Derek will be with us today celebrating the life of our daughter. I wish he could be here physically. With all my being I wish that."

A fund has been set up to help the Flemming family pay for funeral expenses at You can also go to his memorial Facebook page HERE.

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