Ill-will led to murder, jury told

JONO GALUSZKA
Last updated 15:38 28/04/2014

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A Levin man was allegedly murdered over a dispute about a  computer hard drive and someone having urinated on a toothbrush.

The revelation was made during the opening of the trial of Stoyan Militch, 32, Brayden Windley, 23, and Michael Paul Zimmerman, 30, in the High Court at Palmerston North yesterday.

The three men are charged with murdering Michael Les Valentine, 27, who was stabbed once in the chest with a knife and died outside his rural Levin home on February 1 last year.

In her opening address, Crown prosecutor Deborah Davies said Valentine and his fiancee, Elizabeth Ham, were at home when Valentine was sent a text message by a friend.

The friend said Zimmerman and Windley were on their way over, were ''wasted'' and angry.

In the meantime, Zimmerman and Windley met up with Militch - who asked if they needed weapons - before heading to Valentine's home with knives and a steel for sharpening knives, Davies told the court.

When they arrived, Militch stayed near the car while the other two approached the house.

Windley and Valentine soon got into a fight, which moved across the property and towards where Militch was waiting.

Zimmerman joined in before Militch got involved, Davies told the jury.

Ham was in the house using the phone to call for help, when Valentine made a gurgling noise.

''Valentine fell on his back and never moved again,'' Davies said.

The murder took place because of grievances Zimmerman and Windley had with Ham, she said.

A friend of Ham, Matthew Gibb, had broken up with a woman who ended up going out with Zimmerman.

Ham had helped Gibb move out of the woman's house and Ham told the court of an incident in the house.

While a man was urinating in the toilet at the Levin property, she had grabbed the woman's toothbrush and held it in front of him.

This was the incident which made Zimmerman angry, while Windley got wound up because Ham had taken a hard drive of his, Davies said.

Ham told the court she took it because Windley had broken her hard drive but did not repair it.

Davies said all three accused planned to attack Valentine together and were all reckless in how it was dished out, which made them all guilty of the murder.

Zimmerman's lawyer, Carly Linton, said Zimmerman had had a dispute with Valentine but then seemed to settle things and did not get involved in any violence.

Windley's lawyer, Fergus Steedman, told the jury Windley had made some bad decisions that night and had to accept a degree of responsibility for Valentine's death.

The main issue was how responsible he was, Steedman said.

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Militch's lawyer, Rodger Crowley, said his client denied any knowledge of the knife used to kill Valentine.

The trial before Justice Ronald Young is expected to take three weeks.

- Manawatu Standard

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