Saginaw Man Acted In Self-defense When He Fatally Shot Teen In Dice Game Gone Awry, Defense Says

MI SAGINAW — Three February ago, a friendly dice game between friends descended into violence, leading to a struggle and then gunfire. De’Tavion L. Favorite, 16, a resident of Saginaw, lay dead from three gunshot wounds when the smoke cleared.

Malik D. Hart, the man suspected of shooting the bullet and taking Favorite’s life more than a thousand days later, is now having his case heard by a jury. Hart’s defense lawyers don’t dispute that their client was the shooter, but they insist he acted in self-defense, a claim the prosecution is attempting to refute.

Hart, 24, is accused of committing open murder on one count, possessing a felony handgun, and carrying a hidden weapon. First-degree murder convictions carry a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of release. The maximum sentence for second-degree murder is life in prison, but parole is an option.

On the afternoon of January 25, Saginaw County Assistant Prosecutor Melissa J. Hoover presented the jury with her theory of the case. She claimed that on the afternoon of February 21, 2020, Favorite and Hart independently went to a friend’s residence in the 1500 block of Annesley Street to play dice.

Jeannine Atkins, the friend’s mother, heard a fight while she was cooking, according to Hoover.

Hoover remarked, “She goes right away to see what’s going on.” She observes a confrontation between Mr. Hart and Mr. Favorite. It should go without saying that she orders them to leave her home. At that point, Miss Adkins received apologies from Mr. Favorite and Mr. Hart.

Favorite departed shortly after that.

Hoover stated, “Mr. Favorite walks back into the dining room and takes another hit at Malik Hart in what I would consider poor judgment on Mr. Favorite’s behalf. Hart was thrown to the ground by the blow. Hart pulled out a handgun “as if out of thin air,” she added as Favorite moved toward the entrance.

Hoover claimed that when Favorite’s back was turned, Hart shot at him several times, hitting him in the back, neck, and buttock. Favorite passed away at the scene as Hart packed his possessions and departed the house.

Adkins reported what she had observed to the authorities, and the following day, investigators found Hart at another Saginaw house and arrested him. Hart first denied being there when Favorite was shot but later admitted to detectives that Favorite had robbed him at gunpoint before the shooting took place.

According to Hoover, Favorite’s body had no weapons or money on it. According to Hart, Favorite didn’t represent a threat right away, Hoover said.

She claimed that this wasn’t self-defense but rather a retaliation.

Hart’s defense attorney Matthew M. Evans, who also represents Ayiteh Sowah, insisted that his client acted in self-defense. Prior to Favorite’s arrival, he claimed Hart had been living at the house for some time without incident.

Witnesses would give evidence. Evans claimed that Favorite did, in fact, possess a gun before being shot.

The absence of a recovered gun does not prove that one was not present at the scene, according to Evans. Guns and money sometimes vanish from crime scenes because they are valued.

He emphasized to the jury that it was the responsibility of the prosecution to establish that Hart did not act in self-defense.

Atkins said at a preliminary hearing in May 2021 that Favorite and Hart were among the guests who came to her residence on February 20, 2020, to play dice with her son.

Hart was the first person at the house, and Atkins had never met him before. Favorite and another male who Atkins did not know, showed there a little over an hour later, according to her.

Atkins heard a noise coming from her home’s dining room as she was grilling outside.

Atkins reported that there was fighting between Mr. Hart and Mr. Favorite. I exclaimed, “I told both of them to get the f— out of my house.”

Atkins received apologies from Hart and Favorite, and the situation temporarily calmed down. Favorite began to circle back and forth toward a living room window shortly after that, “like he was up to something,” according to Atkins.

Atkins narrated how the man “all of a sudden went back to the dining room (and) hit Mr. Hart.” Mr. Hart had a basketball-like bounce to him.

Atkins claims that Hart then produced a firearm and started shooting. She claimed Hart drew the gun from nowhere and that it appeared to be “a magic act.”

Favorite collapsed to the ground as Hart raised his rifle to shoot Atkins, she claimed. The other male who had arrived with Favorite also pulled a gun and started shooting, the witness added, and Hart then fired more shots.

Favorite’s unknown acquaintance fled her home. Atkins was unable to make out who it was. She then saw Favorite lying on the ground, cradling his neck and struggling for air.

Without making an attempt to assist Favorite, Hart packed his belongings and left the residence, according to Atkins. Police arrived at the scene shortly after someone inside the home dialed 911.

David Murchie, a trooper with the Michigan State Police, testified that he responded to the shooting site and questioned Hart at the Saginaw Police Department the next day. Hart admitted to Murchie that he had gone to the Annesley Street home to play dice after signing a waiver of his Miranda rights. Hart informed Murchie that after taking home about $200, he left the house and then heard gunfire.

Hart then modified his account, telling Murchie that he was inside the house when the shooting started. Hart continued by informing Murchie that Favorite—whom he only knew by the nickname Crash Out—had held him up at gunpoint and robbed him of roughly $200.

A favorite was shot by Hart after Favorite put his gun and the stolen money away, according to what Hart allegedly informed Murchie. Murchie was informed by Hart that he had fired his gun into a field off of 12th Street close to Perkins Street.

Hart was then brought there by Murchie and his companion, where they discovered a 9mm revolver. Murchie reported that four of the gun’s five bullets had been discharged.

According to his obituary, Favorite went to Success Academy in Saginaw and loved sports, especially basketball. He also has a son who is one year old.

According to his obituary, “De’Tavion loved spending time with his family and friends.” He enjoyed laughing, telling jokes, listening to music, spending time with his children, and pestering his siblings nonstop! He could brighten up any room with his presence, and his smile was as radiant as the sun. Those that knew, loved, and spent time with him will genuinely miss him.

De’Quavious Southward, Favorite’s brother, was likewise 16 years old when he was shot and killed on December 23, 2012. No one has ever been put on trial in relation to Southward’s murder.

Favorite’s homicide was one of 26 or a sharp increase from nine in 2019, that took place in Saginaw in 2020. 24 of those 26 fatalities were the consequence of gunshots.

In Saginaw, 19 people died in 2021 and 2022.

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