WALKER, Mich.--Friday morning the suspect in the murder of 81-year-old Casey Wybenga was ordered to stand trial in the case.
Matthew Brunn, who has confessed to police that he strangled Wybenga, appeared in Walker District Court for a preliminary hearing on the evidence in the case. After testimony from several witnesses in the case, the judge bound over Brunn for trial.
Walker Police Department Detective Daniel Raap took the stand and testified that Brunn told him he and Wybenga went to a rented hotel room at America's Best Inn and Suites in Walker in late December. Brunn said he smoked crack in the bathroom, and then he and Wybenga "fooled around" naked. Brunn told the detective that while giving Wybenga a neck massage, he got mad and choked Wybenga.
When the prosecution asked Raap what caused Brunn to choke Wybenga, he testified that "(Brunn) became angry or mad because he felt Mr. Wybenga had been helping him, kind of enabling him, to cut (his parole) tether off."
Then the defense cross-examined Raap and asked if the two went back to the hotel room and Wybenga wanted to fool around, Raap answered yes. The defense asked, "isn't that the reason why (Brunn) said he was kind of angry, because he did not want to fool around and Mr. Wybenga did?" Raap answered, "Yeah, that was one of the reasons."
Wybenga's niece Rosemarie Gallapsy was in tears and said she did not believe this. Gallapsy told FOX 17 that her Uncle Casey Wybenga was afraid of Brunn and had lent money to Brunn several times in the past.
“(Brunn) choked him so hard that his back too (was fractured)," said Gallapsy. I’m angry. I mean, he wouldn’t even look at us, you know. He should be ashamed of himself.”
Kent County Chief Medical Examiner Stephen Cole said after performing Wybenga's autopsy, he found four bruised areas on the inside of Wybenga's neck, fractured ribs, and a fractured vertebrae in his back. Cole confirmed Wybenga died from asphyxiation.
Brunn later fled to Detroit, was arrested and brought back to West Michigan to face charges in the case.
The judge denied Brunn bond and bound him over to Walker Circuit Court pending trial.