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First day of jury deliberations in Samantha Woll murder case; here's a look back

Deliberations resume Friday
Posted at 8:36 PM, Jul 10, 2024

DETROIT (WXYZ) — The first day of jury deliberations in the Samantha Woll murder trial ended with no verdict.

Michael Jackson-Bolanos is on trial. He's accused of killing the Jewish synagogue leader at her Detroit home back in October.

Watch the prosecution's closing argument in the video below:

Prosecution gives closing arguments in the Samantha Woll murder trial

7 News Detroit spoke with defense attorney and former prosecutor Todd Flood. He said deliberations could take several days because of the amount of evidence the jury has to go through. He said the potential verdict is anyone's guess.

“Everyone that’s tried a series of cases, we’ve won cases we’re not supposed to win. We’ve lost cases we’re not supposed to lose," Flood said.

He said he followed the case closely.

Todd Flood

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a hung jury or split decision in this case or a mistrial. Sadly, so," Flood said.

Woll was stabbed to death at her apartment in the early morning hours of Oct. 21.

Police initially zeroed in on her ex-boyfriend, Jeffrey Herbstman, who took the stand during the trial.

On Nov. 7, Herbstman made a frantic 911 call while he was staying in Kalamazoo for work. Body-worn police camera footage showed Herbstman in a panic. He told police he was having a psychotic break after taking medication for depression and marijuana.

In the video, Herbstman can be heard saying he thinks he killed Woll. However, he said he had no recollection of it.

Watch some of the testimony from Herbstman in the video below:

Samantha Woll's ex-boyfriend testifies at murder trial

The officer asked, "What makes you think that you killed her?"

Herbstman replied, "Because I have the motive and the opportunity. I may be trying to outsmart people.”

In court, Herbstman said, "Due to the adverse medication reaction to the medication, I had convinced myself that I had killed Samantha Woll."

Investigators ruled him out. In court, the prosecutor said there’s no evidence linking Herbstman to the crime scene.

The prosecution offered Herbstman "use immunity" to testify in this case. Use immunity means nothing he said can be used against him in a criminal case.

Watch the defense's closing argument in the video below:

Defense gives closing arguments in Samantha Woll murder trial

“Knowing the office that Kym Worthy runs, I am certain that they did their homework," Flood explained.

Investigators said there’s plenty of evidence tying Jackson-Bolanos to Woll’s murder. It's circumstantial evidence that includes surveillance footage of him breaking into cars, his cellphone location in the area near her apartment and Woll’s blood found on his jacket.

Police arrested Jackson-Bolanos on Dec. 10. In interrogation footage, he initially claimed he wasn’t in the area and that he wasn't a thief.

However, Jackson-Bolanos eventually admitted to stealing from cars and said he discovered Woll's body outside her apartment, checked to see if she was alive and headed home.

Watch previous coverage from the last day of testimony in the video player below:

Defense rests in Samantha Woll murder trial; closing arguments set for Tuesday

"It wasn't my business or anybody else's. It's a terrible thing, but it had nothing to do with me. I did not kill her," he said.

Jackson-Bolanos said he didn't report the discovery because he didn't want police to assume he killed her. His defense attorney, Brian Brown, isn't convinced Woll's ex-boyfriend is innocent.

Flood said, "Because it’s the only viable defense or someone else. It wasn’t me, it was the wrong man, wrong person, wrong time to be in that location and that has to be their defense. I’m a thief, but I’m not a killer."

Because of scheduling conflicts, jury deliberations will resume Friday.