A lawyer who represented one of three defendants in a lengthy Franklin County drug-trafficking case killed himself on March 13 after reportedly fleeing from the scene of a shooting in Cleveland.
Michael D. Winston, 38, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Cuyahoga County medical examiner’s office ruled last week.
Winston, whose law office was in Cleveland, represented Kiersten Smith, 23, during a trial that began in January and lasted four weeks in Common Pleas Court. When the trial was over, Winston was fined $500 by Judge Pat Sheeran for twice being about an hour late to court and for failing to appear for a meeting regarding jury deliberations.
The jury acquitted Smith of two counts and was unable to reach a verdict on one count of heroin possession with a gun specification. She is scheduled to be tried again on April 27.
Winston’s suicide occurred minutes after Cleveland police responded to a shooting at an E. 84th Street house. Officers said they saw a man run from the scene and get into a car parked on E. 85th Street, where he shot himself in the head.
How would you have handled someone like Winston? Is there anything that you would have done to prevent his tragic death?
Two men in the house were shot, and one of them died. Police have not commented on what role, if any, Winston played in the shooting.
Winston, a former East Cleveland prosecutor, ran unsuccessfully for a Cleveland Municipal Court judgeship in 2013.
Winston went to a home on East 84th Street after learning that the home's owner had recently won a large sum of money. There, Winston first encountered 60-year-old Walter Saunders and fatally shot Saunders in the head. Winston then shot 52-year-old Irvin Hannon in the chest. Winston then placed a blanket over Saunders body and searched the house for money, unaware that Hannon had called police. When police arrived, they saw Winston "running from the East 84th Street home with stolen cash falling from his pockets." Winston shot himself when police cornered him inside a "get-away" car.
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