Chef charged with murder

KELVIN TEIXEIRA
Last updated 20:22 05/02/2013
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Ground search: Police search the side of State Highway One just north of Levin's township on Thursday during a ''wider scene examination'' as part of Michael Valentine's homicide investigation.

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Two men have appeared in court and another will appear on Thursday in relation to the killing of a Levin father.

Farm worker Michael Valentine - once hailed a hero for saving a woman from a drunk driver - died from a single stab wound to the chest on the front lawn of his rural home off State Highway 1 about 8.30pm Friday.

Emergency services were called to the property after reports of a stabbing during an altercation between a group of people.

Detective Senior Sergeant Marc Hercock said paramedics attempted to resuscitate Mr Valentine, 27, but he was declared dead at the scene.

Levin chef Stoyan Militch, 31, was charged with his murder and assault with a weapon, while Levin factory-hand Michael Zimmerman, 29, was also charged with assault with a weapon. Neither man entered a plea in the Palmerston North District Court on Monday. A 22-year-old Levin man charged with assault was to appear in the Levin District Court on Thursday, while Militch will reappear in the Levin District Court next Wednesday.

A statement from Mr Valentine's family said the days since his death had been ''like living in a nightmare''.

''Michael was the type of guy who could always make you smile when you were down and he had your back no matter what.''

The family thanked people for their messages of support.

Mr Valentine's funeral will be held on Wednesday in Levin.

In 2006, Mr Valentine was credited with saving a woman's life after he pushed her from the path of a stolen car with a drunk driver at the wheel. The driver lost control of the car which jumped the curb outside O'Malley's Bar in Oxford St, Levin.

Mr Valentine bore the brunt of the force and was crushed against a wall, leaving him with life-threatening injuries and in Palmerston North Hospital on life support for two weeks.

Mr Hercock said following Mr Valentine's death last Friday there had been comments posted on social media websites describing injuries he had received during the incident, as well as the alleged friends who inflicted them.

''I want to make it clear that at no stage have police said that the three men arrested were friends of Mr Valentine's,'' he said.

''We have spoken to all the witnesses we believe to have been at the scene at the time of the stabbing. They have provided us with information that gave us the lines of inquiry to locate the three offenders.''

Mr Hercock said information and claims on social media that could not be validated impeded police progress.

''Social media in these circumstances is not the right channel.''

Police were appealing to the public for sightings of a white 1997 Mitsubishi Pajero four-wheel-drive vehicle, registration CTJ 418, between 6pm and midnight last Friday. Call 366 0500, or Crimestoppers, 0800 555 111.

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- Horowhenua Mail

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