Judge: Mistrial in 2013 murder case involving Kzoo neighbors

Todd Maneke
Todd Maneke's Aug. 29, 2016 mug shot.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A judge has declared a mistrial in the case of a Kalamazoo man charged with killing his neighbor years earlier.

Kalamazoo County Circuit Court Judge Pamela L. Lightvoet declared the mistrial Tuesday, saying several jurors admitted to researching the case on their own despite instructions not to, Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting confirmed. Jurors had deliberated two days.

“When a juror goes outside of that process, whether it’s to look at media reports or whether it’s to do research on the internet, they’re getting information that hasn’t been subject to that process,” explained Getting. “It may be stuff that was inadmissible, it may not be accurate, it might not be true.”

Getting wouldn’t elaborate on what outside research the jurors were doing.

A mistrial means prosecutors and defense lawyers will have to select a new jury and present their case all over again. Assistant County Prosecutor Steven McLaughlin and defense attorney Michael Hills said they agreed with Lightvoet’s decision. Maneke’s new trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 18.

Maneke was charged with open murder in the death of Alfred Minka in September 2016.

Alfred Minka
A courtesy photo of Alfred Minka. (Aug. 26, 2013)

Police found Minka’s body inside his Brookmont Drive home on Aug. 23, 2013. Officers found blood on the floor and walls around Minka’s body, as well as in his car, according to court records obtained by 24 Hour News 8.

Maneke was the only person of interest in the case since the beginning, according to the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety chief.

Investigators uncovered inconsistencies in Maneke and his wife’s accounts of the moments surrounding Minka’s death.

Alfred Minka's Brookmont home
The Brookmont Avenue home where Alfred Minka’s body was found on Aug. 23, 2013.

In the probable cause document filed the day of Maneke’s arrest, a Kalamazoo detective testified that Maneke eventually admitted to borrowing Minka’s car to go buy drugs. Police found the victim’s blood on the steering wheel and power window button on the driver’s side.

An earlier search warrant stated the day Minka’s body was found, Maneke was seen driving the victim’s car in places known for crack dealing.

The warrant stated that Maneke admitted to police that he had a crack problem and no job. He told them he had been pawning items to stay afloat. The detective testified that guns Maneke tried to sell to his drug dealer were similar to the ones Minka had in his gun cabinet.

Records showed Maneke also called his crack dealer from the bank where Minka had an account. It’s not clear if he tried to access Minka’s accounts, but the murder victim’s family believed money was missing.

Minka’s family said before his death, Minka said a neighbor had been borrowing money from him without paying him back. Minka told his children he was no longer lending that neighbor money.

— 24 Hour News 8’s Brady Gillum contributed to this report.