Levin man's death leaves 'huge void'

Last updated 18:56 04/02/2013

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A Levin chef has been charged with the murder of Michael Valentine.

Valentine, 27, was found dead on Friday night on a gravel road off State Highway One, 7 kilometres north of Levin. He had been stabbed with a knife once in his chest and died at the scene.

Stoyan Militch, 31, appeared in Palmerston North District Court today, charged with Mr Valentine’s murder. He was charged with assault with a weapon, with court documents alleging he assaulted Mr Valentine with a sharpening steel.

Factory-hand Michael Paul Zimmerman, 29, of Levin, also faced an assault with a weapon charge. Neither entered pleas as they stood before Judge David Smith.

Lawyer Simon Hewson, who is assigned to Militch and acted for Zimmerman as duty solicitor, did not apply for bail and said they would be remanded in custody by consent.

Militch will appear in the Levin District Court on February 13.

‘‘I'm anticipating some disclosure between now and that date that would allow me to assess the strength of that case and perhaps mount a bail application,’’ Hewson said in reference to Militch.

Hewson said he advised Zimmerman to have a lawyer assigned to him before his next appearance on Thursday in Levin.

Valentine, a former Waiopehu College student, lived with his fiancee, to whom he proposed in November, and another flatmate. His four-year-old son lives in Taupo with a previous partner, but the pair had regular contact.

Valentine’s family today released a statement, saying the past four days had been ‘‘like living in a nightmare’’.

‘‘The loss of Michael has left a huge void in our lives and we are still coming to terms with his death,’’ they said.

‘‘Michael was the type of guy who could always make you smile when you were down, and he had your back no matter what. His loyalty and love for his family and friends was immense.

‘‘We love and miss him very much.

‘‘Thank you to everyone for your messages of strength, love, and support."

The family said they were hugely appreciative of everyone who has helped our family over the past few days, including those who have provided information to police.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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