A Black Michigan man accused of shooting and killing the owner of his former company and injuring his alleged bully was consistently called the n-word and endured repeated incidents of race-related bullying, ex-co-workers testified Friday in court.
Jeff Wilde and his stepbrother, Dylan Taylor Riggle, made separate statements in Macomb County Circuit Court that wounded co-worker Angelo Micale bullied and often called Jerry Motley Jr. a “n—–,” according to The Macomb Daily.
“You could physically see it bothered him,” Riggle said in court. “The emotion in his face would change, from being a happy guy. His face would go blank and he would walk away.”
Motley, 26, of Clinton Township, is accused of fatally shooting Reliable Fence owner Tom Badke, 61, of Romeo, at work after an argument with Micale escalated Jan. 9, 2018, The Detroit News reported.
Investigators told the newspaper Motley shot the co-worker twice in the back after the argument, and when co-workers attempted to take the gun away from him, he shot the company’s owner in the head.
Before the deadly incident, Wilde, who also was Motley’s best friend, allegedly told Motley to try to ignore the bullying, according to The Macomb Daily.
“I told him Angelo is an a——; stay away from him,” Wilde said.
He also testified that he and Motley often greeted each other as “n—a,” which Wilde said was a friendly version of “n—er.”
The night before the shooting Motley said in three Facebook videos and a post that his co-workers were “flat-out racists” and used a racial epithet “a million times,” The Macomb Daily reported.
“Like you all are ignorant,” he said in one of the videos. “You just think money is the power of everyone. Really? A weapon is power of everything. I’m basically saying, ‘F— you guys.’”
Riggle said he noticed Motley wasn’t as upbeat and friendly as normal on New Year’s Eve, 10 days before the shooting and that the Facebook post concerned him.
According to Assistant Macomb Prosecutor Vicki Policicchio, Motley said in the post that an employee told him Black people will do anything if you give them watermelon and that Wilde referenced lynching in asking him from which tree branch he wanted to hang.
Motley also reported that an employee said he wished slavery still existed so he could “do whatever he wanted” to a Black girl.
“I put up with it for a year for a full family. No more,” Policicchio read the post from Motley. “How dare you bring my ancestors into the argument? That has nothing to do with it, if you’re asking me why black people are mad when their ancestors sold us into slavery.”
Micale denied the accusations, said he doesn’t consider himself a bully but admitted he would tell Motley to “hustle up a little bit.”
“He was not very skilled,” and at times showed “a lack of effort,” Micale said of Motley.
Motley’s attorney, Adil Haradhvala, is working to have Motley found not guilty by reason of insanity after an independent evaluation indicated he was insane at the time of the shootings, although he was found mentally competent to stand trial, according to The Macomb Daily.
Motley, who’s been labeled developmentally disabled, was described as functional by multiple witnesses, the newspaper reported.
“I don’t see where he was insane,” Riggle testified, also calling him “crazy as hell behind the wheel.”
Motley, the only black worker of about 15 employees at Reliable, was hired a year before the shootings on Wilde’s recommendation, The Macomb Daily reported.
He and Wilder met at East Detroit High School in special education classes, and Motley regularly attended family gatherings for Wilde and Riggle, the newspaper reported.
Motley’s jury trial continues Tuesday.