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Trial for suspect in murder of Detroit synagogue leader Samantha Woll will resume Thursday

Posted at 9:35 AM, Jun 17, 2024

DETROIT (WXYZ) — The trial for the suspect in the murder of Detroit synagogue leader Samantha Woll will resume on Thursday.

The trial took a break on Wednesday for the Juneteenth federal holiday.

On Tuesday, prosecutors called an ex-boyfriend of Woll who at one point called police and confessed to killing her. He was later ruled out as a suspect.

RELATED VIDEO: Raw video of some of Jeffrey Herbstman's testimony

Samantha Woll's ex-boyfriend testifies at murder trial

Jeffrey Herbstman testified that he was under the influence of anti-depressants and cannabis and had been hallucinating when he confessed in the case.

At one point Tuesday, the court saw body cam of footage from his arrest in Kalamazoo.

"I may have broke up with my girlfriend and I don't remember it"

"Where's your girlfriend stay at?"

"She lives in Detroit - lived in Detroit."

"Okay, what makes you think that you killed her?"

"Because I have the motive, because I have the opportunity."

Herbstman testified he received Trans-Cranial Magneti Stimulation, which impacted his memory of their breakup. According to the Mayo Clinic, the procedure
uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to treat depression.

RELATED VIDEO: Forensic toxicologist Jennifer Swatek testifies at Samantha Woll murder trial

Forensic toxicologist Jennifer Swatek testifies at Samantha Woll murder trial

Herbstman testified that Woll broke up with him and that he last saw her on October 7. She was found dead two weeks later on the 21st.

RELATED VIDEO: Forensic Scientist Miranda Comsa testifies at Samantha Woll murder trial

Forensic Scientist Miranda Comsa testifies at Samantha Woll murder trial

Michale Jackson-Bolanos is charged with killing Woll in a random attack. He is also charged with home invasion and lying with police. If convicted, the 29-year-old could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Monday story below:

The trial for the murder of Detroit synagogue leader Samantha Woll resumed Monday morning.

Woll was stabbed to death outside her Lafayette Park home in October 2023. Michael Jackson Bolanos has been charged with her murder.

On Monday, Aaron Pergament, an ex-boyfriend of Woll, testified. Pergament was previously ruled out as a suspect.

Defense attorneys for Jackson Bolanos pressed Pergament about access to Woll's home, asking if he was aware that she would sometimes keep doors unlocked.

Pergament said he was aware of that, adding that Woll told him that personally.

Jackson Bolanos is also charged with home invasion and lying to the police. If he's convicted, the 29-year-old could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Last week saw powerful testimony in a downtown Detroit courtroom as key evidence experts and the victim's best friend took the stand.

Last Thursday's testimony included Sherri Berger, a friend of Woll who testified she had no fears about her own safety prior to her death despite a recent breakup with her boyfriend. Berger testified Woll was feeling optimistic about both her personal and professional life.

Investigators also talked about how the crime scene was processed and how gruesome it was.

“There was so much blood we had to take pictures to scale that was able to show zoom in to scale,” testified FBI Special Agent Eli Bowers.

The FBI and Michigan State Police assisted Detroit police in gathering evidence.

“We observed foot impressions that were barefoot, not necessarily a shoe or anything like that,” testified Guy Nutter, a Forensic Expert with MSP. “There was blood in the entryway, hallway, living room, and lower floors.”

Defense attorneys have suggested the crime scene was not processed correctly and that the prosecution is falling short of showing Bolanos is responsible for the crime.

Thursday's testimony also included an assistant medical examiner testifying about the numerous stab wounds that led to Woll's death, including some to her scalp. It also featured a state police lieutenant telling the court that finger and palm prints taken at the scene did not support a match with Bolanos.

Wednesday was an emotional day in court with video and picture evidence brought forward that shows just how gruesome Samantha Woll's murder was.

RELATED STORY: Detroit synagogue president found dead outside home; police to provide update Sunday

Detroit synagogue president found dead outside home; police to provide update Sunday

The prosecution's first witness was Kevin Mull, who lived across the street from Woll and was the one who found her dead in front of her house the morning of Oct. 21, 2023.

VIDEO: Prosecution gives opening statement in Samantha Woll murder trial

Prosecution gives opening statement in Samantha Woll murder trial

Mull testified, "The skin was blue, the feet were blue, I touched that part of the body to get some kind of reaction and, immediately, could tell how cold the body was."

Mull's wife Jessica Robinson was the second witness. It was she who called 911.

The prosecution played the audio recording of that phone call.

At one point Robinson said, "My husband was just out walking our dog and told me there was a person, potentially a body, on the sidewalk."

The third, fourth, and fifth witnesses were the two Detroit Police officers who were dispatched when Woll's body was found, and a forensic technician who worked the scene.

Their testimony brought forth gruesome evidence.

The prosecution played a body camera video from that morning that shows how Woll was found... deceased, in the fetal position, drenched in blood. Some of Woll's family left the courtroom for this.

One of the witnesses, former Detroit Police officer Preston Kue testified that beyond Woll's body, her front door was open, and much of the inside of her home was covered in blood.

During Detroit forensic technician Carrington Sheridan's testimony, the prosecution showed pictures of Woll's front hallway and living room. The living room was shown in disarray with food scattered, a laptop knocked over with blood on it, a vape-type pen and contact lenses found on the floor by pillows.

"There appeared to be items surrounding the couch that were consistent with there having been a possible struggle," testified Sheridan.

The defense throughout cross-examination seemingly worked to paint a picture of sloppy police work.

VIDEO: Defense gives opening statement in Samantha Woll murder trial

Defense gives opening statement in Samantha Woll murder trial

Defense Attorney Brian Brown asked the sixth witness Sgt. Daron Zhou why police working the crime scene took items out of Woll's purse and photographed them next to evidence lying out at the scene.

"Does it make sense to you to remove items from a bench in the entryway and take them out and place them in another location in the house next to items that were already there?" questioned Brown.

"No," answered Zhou.