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January 301, 2003

Drunk witnesses force hearing delay

Two were present the night victim allegedly was killed with bottle
By PATRICK SULLIVAN
Record-Eagle staff writer

      TRAVERSE CITY - A hearing in the case of a man who died after he was hit over the head with a Popov vodka bottle was postponed Thursday after two witnesses showed up drunk to testify.
      The hearing, in which prosecutors planned to present evidence to show probable cause that Christopher Baize, 33, died as a result of being hit over the head with a bottle by 54-year-old Terry Koury, was rescheduled for Feb. 10.
      District Judge Thomas J. Phillips scolded Peter Koury and Wayne Schark for appearing in court drunk and told them that if they were not sober for the next hearing they would be held in contempt of court and be sent to jail for 30 days.
      He also told the men that they may be forced to pay for the cost of an additional hearing.
      At 1:30 p.m., Peter Koury registered a blood alcohol level of 0.07 and Schark registered a level of 0.139, assistant prosecutor Noelle Moeggenberg told Phillips.
      A blood alcohol level of 0.10 is considered legally intoxicated in Michigan.
      Peter Koury, the defendant's husband, was fighting with Baize when Terry Koury allegedly hit Baize over the head on April 13.
      Baize's girlfriend found Baize dead in the bathroom of his Leelanau County home the following morning.
      Schark also was present the evening of the fight, and he allegedly disposed of the vodka bottle in a trash bin behind the Sail Inn bar, near where the Kourys lived.
      According to police, Koury has admitted to police that she hit Baize over the head with the bottle.
      During the investigation, police discovered that Baize and Peter Koury were cousins who were friends and who often fought with each other, especially when drinking.
      The pair had apparently been drinking the night of the altercation, which started at the Kourys' home after Baize made a remark about the Kourys' recent marriage.
      Before Thursday's hearing was interrupted, forensic pathologist David Start testified that Baize died from blunt force trauma to his head.
      Under questioning from Koury's defense attorney, Randy Smith, Start conceded that Baize could "potentially" have survived had he sought medical treatment and undergone brain surgery immediately.
      Start also said that Baize's blood alcohol level of 0.17 at the time of his death may have impaired his judgment in considering whether to seek medical attention.
      Koury faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter. She faces up to 15 years in prison if she is convicted.
      Patrick Sullivan is the reporter for crime, courts and public safety. He can be reached at (231) 933-1478, or at psullivan@record-eagle.com
     

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