MI v. Michael Jackson-Bolanos: Synagogue Leader Murder Trial

Posted at 2:21 PM, July 18, 2024

DETROIT (Court TV) — A Michigan jury reached a partial verdict after five days of deliberations in the trial of man accused of killing a community leader.

Michael Jackson-Bolanos was found not guilty of premeditated murder, and guilty of a charge of concealing facts to police in the Oct. 2023 death of Samantha Woll. The jury deadlocked on charges of felony murder and home invasion.

split screen of michael jackson-bolanos and samantha woll

Michael Jackson-Bolanos was charged with the murder of Samantha Woll. (Court TV)

Woll, the president of the Isaac Agree Downtown Detroit Synagogue, was found dead outside of her Detroit home after she was stabbed multiple times.

After the jury’s verdict, prosecutors said they intend to retry the case.

At the time of Jackson-Bolanos’ arrest, police said there was no indication that the murder was the result of a hate crime. Investigators said they believed Woll was randomly targeted while the defendant was trying to break into vehicles.

MORE | Defendant admits lying, but denies attacking Samantha Woll

During a police interrogation, Jackson-Bolanos told officers that he had nothing to do with Woll’s murder. He took the stand in his defense during the trial, admitting that he lied to his girlfriend on Oct. 21 when he told her he was going for a walk when he was really planning to steal from unlocked vehicles. Jackson-Bolanos said while he was doing that, he saw a “dark figure” lying outside, which he later realized was a dead body.

“I was over there … going into motor vehicles, and I felt like if I had to call the police I’d be incriminating myself,” Jackson-Bolanos said while testifying.

Jackson-Bolanos’ defense has tried to suggest that Woll’s ex-boyfriend may have been behind the brutal murder. That ex allegedly confessed to the killing before later saying his memory had been altered by the use of drugs, including antidepressants, nerve treatments and cannabis. Prosecutors previously said they found no proof to indicate that the ex-boyfriend was involved.