CORUNNA — The civil trial of Mark Latunski, the man accused of killing Kevin Bacon in December 2019 and partially consuming his body, continued Tuesday in 35th Circuit Court, with testimony from several witnesses — but Judge Matthew Stewart made no final ruling and the case is far from finished.
The lawsuit is seeking damages from Steven Deehl, the man who bought Mark Latunski’s property at auction in February 2020, as well as Deehl’s son, Alex Deehl, who resided at the property until he was evicted by Paul Latunski in September 2020.
Mark Latunski, who had owned the home and property, is being held in the Michigan Center for Forensic Psychiatry in Saline. He was initially found incompetent to stand trial for the December 2019 murder and mutilation of 25-year-old Bacon, before being found competent. He has changed attorneys since his arrest, and a competency hearing in the case is scheduled for 2:30 today in circuit court.
Paul Latunski, who is the conservator of Mark Latunski’s estate and his brother, testified for over four hours Tuesday. He detailed how after his brother’s arrest on Dec. 28, 2019, he had attempted to secure the property so that Mark Latunski could reside there if he is acquitted of Bacon’s murder, or so the property could be rented out to pay for Mark Latunski’s long-term care.
According to Latunski’s tesimony Tuesday, on Jan. 4, 2020, a notice of abandonment had been posted on the property by the Shiawassee County Sheriff’s Office. In Michigan, owners of foreclosed homes can negate a bank sale (“redeem”) by paying the purchase prices, plus fees, to the purchaser within a set period of time, typically six months, but sometimes as long as one year. If the property is considered abandoned, the period is 30 days.
Paul Latunski claimed Tuesday that he had attempted to “redeem” the property at least twice, but the Deehls' attorney refused payment both times. The home was subsequently purchased by Steven Deehl through Alex Deehl, who submitted a bid of $101,733.28 at an auction at the circuit court house on Feb. 26, 2020.
However, just before the auction occurred, Paul Latunski obtained an emergency order naming him as conservator for his brother’s property. As the auction was taking place, Paul Latunski said he went to his brother’s home on Tyrell Road to stop Mark Latunski’s ex-wife from removing property from the residence.
When asked Tuesday by Steven Deehl’s attorney John Homola why he hadn’t gone to the auction, Paul Latunski responded that he could either “defend the property or go to the auction.” He added that he believed he had six months to redeem the property and was more concerned with items coming up missing from his brother’s property.
When asked by Homola why he was representing his brother as conservator, Paul Latunski said he had a “fiduciary duty” to not let the property be lost, and accused the Shiawassee County Sheriff’s Office of “playing games.”
“Steven Deehl called Sheriff BeGole and told him his son would be bidding as his agent at the auction, and he would submit whatever bid he needed to purchase the property,” Paul Latunski claimed Tuesday. “The attorney was playing games, not accepting two attempts at redemption, and trying to run out the redemption period.”
He also testified that there had been an attempt to foreclose on the property by Security Credit Union, of Flint, published a notice of foreclosure Jan. 23, 2020, in The Argus-Press, as required by state law. According to the notice, Mark Latunski took out a mortgage Oct. 29, 2013, for $76,336.18 for his property, and was several months behind on the mortgage.
Paul Latunski’s former attorney Justin English eventually submitted a “redemption” payment of $103,000 to the attorney for Steven Deehl, and the property was returned to Paul Latunski. However, the residence had suffered several break-ins and a significant of property was missing, and damages had occurred to the home while Alex Deehl was residing there. Paul Latunski later filed the civil suit seeking awards for damages.
Later, Paul Latunski was charged with two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon for entering the house March 28, 2020, with a shotgun and threatening Alex Deehl. However, those charges were dismissed by prosecutors in June 2020. It appears the dismissal was directly related to the civil proceedings initiated by Paul Latunski as conservator. At Tuesday’s hearing, Paul Latunski confirmed he went to the property with an unloaded shotgun because he didn’t believe Alex Deehl had the right to be there after he was named conservator.
Alex Deehl, who has represented himself in the civil suit, did not get the chance to question Paul Latunski Tuesday, after Stewart called proceedings to a halt shortly before 4 p.m. He indicated he may have to travel out of county to serve as a visiting judge in a double murder case and that those proceedings could take some time to complete.