Times columnist rides along with sheriff deputies
October 07, 2009
Editor's note: The following is another installment in a series of first-hand accounts by columnist Doug Hunter, who has been riding along with deputies from the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department. Hunter, a writer, historian and farmer is a lifelong resident of the Capac area. The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this publication. The following information is derived from preliminary examinations and is part of the public record.
Drugs beget violence. This past summer St. Clair County was the location of two particularly heinous acts of compulsion against drug users.
The evening of June 1 began on a quiet note for Andrew Maurice of Port Huron but it would end in a life threatening struggle. Friends had called and asked if he would like to smoke a joint with them. Readily he agreed to such and a rendezvous point was agreed upon. Eagerly he entered the vehicle at Seventh and Griswold in Port Huron.
Within minutes the car was in a rural area on Beach Road. Stopping, Andrew Maurice was pulled from the vehicle by Thomas Johnson, Martel Levins and Colleen Sturdevant. The victim was stripped of his clothing and his valuables—a wallet and cell phone.
Thomas Johnson had been called previously by Colleen Sturdevant and asked to attend the "Hit A Lick'' (drug slang for robbing and beating) with her and Martel Levins.
An argument soon developed. Levins protested to Johnson that he was not doing enough beating up on the victim. Sturdevant exclaimed she had hurt her hand striking the victim. Quickly Johnson resumed pummeling the face and head of the now distraught victim.
Halting the assault they divided up the clothes. Johnson took the hat.
The naked, bruised and bleeding victim was then loaded back into the car to be taken somewhere but they didn't know where.
Stopping on West Water Street they once again dragged the victim from the automobile and anew they began beating him.
Once again loading him back into the car they headed for a more rural setting to finish their deed.
Thirty Sixth Street and Cleveland was the site chosen to end the life of Andrew Maurice.
Dragged from the car Mr. Maurice begged for his life and to see his young children. They stood on his throat trying to choke the life from him, stepping on his neck. He gurgled.
The order was given to Colleen Sturdevant of Emmett Township to retrieve the empty Miller High Life beer bottle from the car. Handing it off, the bottle was broken and the jagged weapon was applied to the exposed throat of the semi-conscious Maurice.
The life sustaining blood flowed freely and the perpetrators soon became covered with it. Figuring that he would quickly bleed out and die they raced away to shower and clean up.
The call came into the Sheriff Dept. at 5:40 a.m. by a shocked motorist. There was a naked bleeding man in the middle of 36th Street.
A deputy and an ambulance were immediately dispatched to the scene. Andrew Maurice was barely alive. The life support and long recovery began first to Mercy Hospital in Port Huron and then at Detroit Receiving. He would live to tell of his horrifying ordeal.
At present Colleen Sturdevant, Thomas Johnson, and Martel Levins are incarcerated in the St. Clair County Jail awaiting their trial in Circuit Court.
After borrowing $25, 44-year-old Matt Rogul asked 19-year-old Devon Sapp, the man who was dating his stepdaughter and living with him, to go to Port Huron to buy some marijuana.
When Sapp readily agreed, Rogul handed the keys to the younger man. Leaving their western St. Clair County home in Kenockee Township, their first step was Wadhams for $8 of gas and a pack of cigarettes, leaving them just enough for a $10 bag of the drug they had become very fond of.
Matt told Devon that their regular dealer Mary had moved from her previous address and was now in the Ashland Court area of Port Huron.
Unfamiliar with the area the two soon found Ashland Court.
Not knowing the exact address Matt ordered Devon to pull up to a group of youths gathered on the corner. Stopping the car Matt asked where Mary lived. The youths did not know a Mary so Matt asked where he could get "Ten in Tree.''
Aaron Dewayne Florence said, "I can take you to a place to get it.'' Readily accepting the offer Matt told the man to get in the rear seat directly behind him. Two other men, Lorenzo Vonn Buckles and another were heard to say they didn't want to miss out on a "Hit a Lick.'' Rushing around to the other side of the car they entered after being assisted by Devon Sapp. The outer door handle didn't work so he had to turn around to use the inner handle, getting a clear look at Mr. Florence.
Taking directions the nervous Devon Sapp soon got to a small park. Ordered to stop he complied.
Pulling a revolver Florence pressed it against Matt Rogul's neck. He shouted "Give me all you got!''
The last words Matt Rogul would ever utter came out "Man, all I want is a ten sack.''
At the same instant the man directly behind Devon Sapp tapped his shoulder demanding the same from him. The scared Devon shouted back, "I don't have anything!'' "What's in your pockets?'' the assailant shouted. "Nothing, I don't have any pockets in these shorts!'' he cried out, terrified.
The report from the small caliber revolver was loud inside the vehicle. Turning his head Devon Sapp saw his older friend slump forward. Gasping and gurgling sounds and fluid began emitting from his now open mouth.
Swinging open the rear door Aaron Dwayne Florence emerged. Stepping forward around the car he returned and emptied the gun in the direction of Matt Rogul. Through the open window another bullet tore through Matt's right lung, aorta and into his beating heart.
Either wound was fatal, Doctor Daniel Spitz, the St. Clair County Forensic Examiner would later testify. "Death would happen in minutes,'' he said.
Lorenzo Vonn Buckles and the third man leaped from the vehicle and joined Florence, running into the darkness and safety of the night.
"Wake up Matt! Wake up!'' Devon screamed as he took the transmission shifter from park to drive. Racing away he didn't know where the nearest hospital was. He was lost. Not a clue to where help could be found.
Frantically he drove the old car up and down the streets until he recognized a landmark. Then he remembered how to get to Mercy Hospital.
Arriving, he forced open the automated door. It wasn't opening quick enough to suit him.
Inside he couldn't find anyone. Screaming for help he began opening every door that would open.
Finally he found a nurse. They, joined by others, ran to the old Buick.
The gurgling and gasps had ceased. Matthew Rogul, the father of young children, had passed from this life for a 'Ten Sack.'
Aaron Dwayne Florence and Lorenzo Vonn Buckles await their fate in Circuit Court alongside Colleen Sturdevant, Thomas Johnson and Martel Evans in the St. Clair County Jail.
All this suffering for an illegal drug that some want to legalize, claiming it's medicinal and harmless.
What do you think? And is now the time to cut the Sheriff Department road patrols because of the budget shortfall?
If continued sheriff department and drug task force protection is important to you, let doug know at email@example.com. Also email Doug to share your story or comment on this column.