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Home invasion trial begins

August 31, 2012
By GARRETT NEESE - DMG writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

HOUGHTON - Both sides rested Thursday in a Houghton County Circuit Court trial of a Hancock teen charged with invading a Hancock woman's home and stealing her purse.

Michael Hylton, 19, allegedly went to the home Nov. 11, 2011, with his friend Corey Hansen, who had stolen money from the same woman with another friend, Andrew Looper, the week before.

He is charged with first-degree home invasion, a 20-year felony, and larceny in a building, a four-year felony.

Article Photos

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Michael Hylton sits during the first day of his trial in Houghton County Circuit Court Thursday. Hylton is accused of stealing a purse from the home of a Hancock woman in November.

The prosecution's main witness was Hansen, who is serving a year in jail for breaking into the woman's house; other charges were dropped in a plea bargain, which included as a condition that he testify against Hylton. Hansen said Thursday he had left school early, he had met up with Hylton and gone to Helen Kotila's house.

When Kotila answered the door, Hansen identified himself as a friend of Looper's and asked her for a glass of water. While Kotila was in the kitchen, he said, Hylton entered the home and took the purse.

"When Michael Hylton took the purse, what did he do?" Prosecuting Attorney Michael Makinen asked him.

"He walked out the door," Hansen said.

"What did you do?" Makinen asked.

"I followed him," Hansen said.

After they left the home, Hansen said, he went with Hylton to a brick foundation along an ATV trial near the home. Police found footprints leading to the foundation.

They found nothing in the purse, he said. He and Hylton went back and dropped the purse on the woman's doorstop.

Testifying in court Thursday, Kotila said she had heard them leave the purse on the front porch.

"I picked it up, and saw somebody disappearing around the corner," she said.

After interviewing Kotila, police found Hansen, who confessed to his and Hylton's involvements.

Hansen reiterated the claim in his third interview with police, but not his second, said Hancock Police Lt. Randy Mayra. Hansen said statements in his second interview, in which he backtracked on his claim that Hylton stole the purse, had been motivated by a fear Hylton would beat him up.

But two Houghton County Jail cellmates of Hansen testified he had confided in them that he had taken the purse himself.

Looper, who was also sentenced to a year in jail for breaking into Kotila's home, said Hansen told him about changing his mind to implicate Hylton because he thought he might implicate him in a theft at the Freedom gasoline station.

Looper, who had taken money from Kotila's house multiple times, did admit to resenting Hansen for "bungling the opportunity," as Makinen put it.

Michael Teter said Hansen had sought out his advice as a more experienced inmate.

"According to Corey ... Mike never entered her house," he said. "He came down for a walk with Corey ... Mike's standing outside where Corey was standing, then Corey went in to get whatever it was he did, and came back out."

Hylton waived his right to testify Thursday.

The trial was scheduled to resume at 8:30 a.m. today with closing arguments.



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