Murder defendant takes the stand, will testimony help or hurt


It's been about two years since a Clarkston man was arrested and charged with second degree murder in the shooting death of another man. Today, the prosecution rested their case, and that's when Melvin O'Rourke took the stand in his own defense.

His defense attorney Raymond "Vic" Bottomly began his line of questioning. They dove into the moments leading up to the shooting. O'Rourke said he was relaxing chair, when he heard someone trying to get into his apartment. "The door handle was rattling,” O’Rourke explained, “it just kept going and so I walked over and opened the door." He said Duane Hettinger, the victim, was there, and he walked in and sat down in his living room. "Then what did you do?" asked Bottomly. "Closed the door and locked it,” O’Rourke responded.

He said they then sat adjacent to each other in complete silence. He said, “He looked at me and look a step." O'Rourke explained that Hettinger gave a look that made him feel threatened. "I went for my gun,” He grabbed his gun, then the magazine and loaded it. "Do you remember how long it took you to do this? To get the gun out and out the magazine in?" asked Bottomly. "Seemed like one second,” O’Rourke replied.

But, when it was time for Prosecuting Attorney Ben Nichols to cross examine O'Rourke, he tested that statement. "Retrieve the gun, retrieve the magazine, put the magazine in the gun, rack the gun." Nichols walked O’Rourke through the motions. "Point it at me, you can't aim, you're having a hard time the gun is going up and going down." “I'm trying to aim beside you." O’Rourke responded holding a toy gun and aiming it at Nichols. "Think about shooting me in the arm or the leg," said Nichols. "They're too small for me to make sure I get," O’Rourke responded. "Focus in on center mass, no, pull the trigger,” Nichols said.

It took O'Rourke 40 seconds to act out exactly how he shot Hettinger. Then Nichols directed his questioning to motive. "Why did you kill Duane Hettinger?" he asked. "Because of the look. It was the danger look, that I was going to get slaughtered, or killed,” said O’Rourke.

In a moment of intensity, Nichols clarified what O’Rourke just said. "He never cursed at you?” asked Nichols. “That's correct." "He never threatened you?" Nichols continued. "That's correct. That look was very, very threatening to me,” O’Rourke replied. "You killed him for a look?" Nichols concluded. "that's correct,” O’Rourke admitted.

The only time O'Rourke showed any emotion was when asked this question, "You cared about Duane right?" Bottomly asked. "Very, very much,” O’Rourke answered, chin quivering.

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