Week 4 of trial set to begin for suspect in murder of Detroit synagogue leader Samantha Woll

Experts from the FBI and Detroit Police Department took the stand
Posted at 9:24 AM, Jun 24, 2024

DETROIT (WXYZ) — The fourth week of the trial for the suspect accused of killing Detroit synagogue leader Samantha Woll will began on Monday morning.

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

On Monday, prosecutors called more key witnesses who responded to investigate Woll’s brutal stabbing death. They also played video of the interrogation of Jackson-Bolanos.

Experts from the FBI and Detroit Police Department took the stand, laying out parts of their investigation while defense counsel grilled them on whether or not they followed procedure.

Hear more from court on Monday below:

Expert testimony highlights trial in Samantha Woll murder case

The defense questioned methods used to build a case against Jackson-Bolanos.

Taking the stand as a prosecution witness was FBI senior digital forensic investigator Jordan Graves, who pushed back several times against defense attorneys suggesting rules weren’t followed in the investigation into the murder of Woll.

The defense questioned Graves about deleted cellphone data in this case.

“It sometimes can be difficult to differentiate between a user telling a device to delete something or a device deleting something as part of just the maintenance of itself,” Graves said. “Contrary to what you see on TV or in movies, we don’t go rogue in the FBI. That’s not how it works.”

Soon after, defense counsel cross-examined a Detroit police witness who spent time gathering evidence from the phone of the defendant. More questions were asked about Woll’s cellphone being accessed around the time of her murder.

Samantha Woll
File - An undated courtesy photo of Samantha Woll.

“Do you know whether or not from her lock screen (if) the camera could be accessed or opened directly from the lock screen?” defense asked Detroit Police Department Detective Sarah Markel said.

“Yes. That’s a common feature on the iPhone,” she responded.

“You’re stating that you were unable to find any longitude, latitude, location from his phone from the night of October 20th leading into October 21st, correct?” defense attorney Brian Brown asked.

Markel said that’s “correct.”

Markel was grilled about an app on the defendant’s phone that worked as a police scanner. She was asked if the scanner app requires being on the main screen for audio to be played.

“It can play in the background. So if I had it open on my phone, I can close my phone. If I don’t close that app, then it still is going to be playing in the background and I can still hear the audio from the background.”

Markel also told the court all investigative procedures were followed, rejecting the defense suggesting to the contrary.

More testimony resumes Tuesday.


Thursday afternoon, prosecutors called key witnesses to paint a picture of events surrounding Woll’s brutal stabbing death.

The defense made efforts to create doubt that Jackson-Bolanos is responsible.

Michigan State Police investigator Alex Martinez told the court he found no proof to suggest the ex-boyfriend of Woll was behind her stabbing murder.

VIDEO: Watch some of the testimony from Samantha Woll's ex-boyfriend:

Samantha Woll's ex-boyfriend testifies at murder trial

This is despite the fact that Woll’s ex-boyfriend allegedly admitted to the killing before later telling police his memory was thrown off by use of anti-depressants and cannabis and nerve treatments at the Mayo Clinic.

However, Martinez pointed to the fact that someone did slash tires outside Woll’s Lafayette Park home around the time she was killed.

"We’re investigating a murder and stabbing and it’s relevant that outside, there’s a vehicle with slashed tires," he said.

VIDEO: Defense delivers opening statement in Samantha Woll murder trial

Defense gives opening statement in Samantha Woll murder trial

Prosecutors in court also showed video of a search done at the home of Bolanos.

Markel, who examined Woll’s phone saying around the time of her death, said: "At 1:29 a.m. it was unlocked, phone was unlocked. Then it was locked at 1:35 a.m. About six min.”

Investigators have told the court they witnessed a large amount of blood inside Woll’s home, but Woll’s friend previously testified she had no safety concerns prior to this murder.

VIDEO: Prosecution delivers opening statement in Samantha Woll murder trial

Prosecution gives opening statement in Samantha Woll murder trial

Another witness for the prosecution also on the stand being grilled by the defense pushed back about significance of a club or bat found to be in the possession of Jackson-Bolanos in his vehicle.

“You indicated this is a club or bat that could be used for sports, right?" the defense attorney asked.

"I suppose," said Eugene Fitzhugh, evidence technician with the Detroit Police Department.

Markel also told the court after the murder, the defendant searched his phone for information on how to obtain a same-day passport, suggesting he may leave town.