Rick Tetzlaff

Victim: Rick Tetzlaff, 28

Murderer: Efren Paredes Jr., 15

Crime location: St. Joseph

Crime date: March 8, 1989

These are the southwest Michigan men whose mandatory life sentences will get another look

Victim: Rick Tetzlaff, 28, of Stevensville, a South Bend native who was assistant manager at Roger’s Vineland Foodland, a grocery in St. Joseph where Parades worked as a bagger

The crime: Paredes, of St. Joseph Township, waited for Tetzlaff in a back room of the grocery, shot and killed him, and stole money from the store.

Paredes v. Vasbinder

I. Background

Petitioner was convicted of the above offenses following a jury trial in the Berrien County Circuit Court. Petitioner’s convictions arose from the murder of Richard Tetzlaff on March 8, 1989, during a robbery of Vineland Foodland, a supermarket in St. Joseph Township, Michigan. Petitioner was fifteen years old at the time of the murder and robbery, and worked as a bagger at the store.

Petitioner previously filed a habeas petition with the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, which was dismissed on the ground that petitioner had failed to exhaust his state court remedies. See Paredes v. Johnson, No. 1:95-CV-112 (W.D. Mich. October 19, 1998) (Bell, J.); aff’d 230 F. 3d 1359 (Table); 2000 WL 1206544 (6th Cir. August 18, 2000); cert. den.531 U.S. 1116 (2001). Respondent has attached to her answer the Report and Recommendation issued on December 12, 1997 by Magistrate Judge Joseph G. Scoville in this prior case, which contains a lengthy and thorough summary of the facts. The Court will adopt the magistrate’s factual findings, insofar as they are not clearly erroneous and were adopted by Judge Bell in the prior habeas case, which in turn, was affirmed by both the Sixth Circuit and the United States Supreme Court. Cf. United States ex. rel. Gonzalez v. Zelker,477 F. 2d 797, 800 (2nd Cir. 1973) (normally findings of magistrate adopted by district court are to stand on appellate review unless clearly erroneous). However, to provide a brief summary of the case for this opinion, this Court will recite verbatim the relevant facts regarding petitioner’s conviction from the Michigan Court of Appeals’ opinion affirming his conviction, which are presumed correct on habeas review. See Monroe v. Smith,197 F. Supp. 2d 753, 758 (E.D. Mich. 2001):

The evidence presented at trial indicated that defendant had stated that he was going to rob the store and kill somebody. On March 8, 1989, when defendant was picked up at the store by Alex Mui, defendant stated “I did it.” Mui testified that he knew that this meant that defendant had killed somebody. Defendant told Mui that he had to go back into the store to get the money. Subsequently, a bag of money was found in the basement of defendant’s house. Defendant’s fingerprints were found on a cash drawer which he should not have had access to. The day after the crime, defendant was seen with a set of keys which were similar to the victim’s set of keys, which were missing.

People v. Paredes, No. 128928, * 5 (Mich.Ct.App. June 8, 1992).

“Petitioner’s conviction was affirmed on appeal. Id., reh. den. 128928 (Mich.Ct.App. August 13, 1992); lv. den. 442 Mich. 904; 503 N.W. 2d 443 (1993); reconsideration den. 442 Mich. 904; 505 N.W. 2d 585 (1993).” Paredes v. Vasbinder, Case No. 03-74826-DT, 2-3 (E.D. Mich. Jun. 30, 2006)

Efran Paredes, Jr.

On March 8, 1989, Efren Paredes, Jr., (dob 4/4/1973), age
of 15, of Lincoln Township, laid in wait in a back room of the
grocery store where he worked and executed a plan to murder a coworker, assistant manager Rick Tetzlaff. Rick Tetzlaff was shot 4 times. One bullet entered the back of the head penetrating his brain stem; another went through his heart, another through both of his
lungs, and the fourth through an arm. Any of the first three wounds alone would have resulted in his death. Two codefendants helped get Paredes a gun at the store and assisted in his leaving the scene. Some witnesses testified at trial Paredes seemed to have a fascination with death. Paredes also robbed the store of cash and checks.

Paredes was convicted of 1st degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life without
parole. His commutation request was denied by Governor Jennifer Granholm in 2010 after a
commutation hearing.

At his sentencing hearing a child psychiatrist rendered an opinion that Paredes was of
above average intelligence and suffered from no mental illness. He testified there was an obvious lack of sadness or remorse on the part of Paredes, nor did Paredes express any anger for the situation he found himself in, which was considered unusual given that he denied the crimes. He concluded that there was no potential for treatment and that in the interest of the public’s welfare and protection Paredes should be confined in a closed setting. Paredes’ two co-defendants received 17 year minimum sentences for their part in the murder.

Richard Tetzlaff was married and the father of 1 child at the time of his death. He and his
wife Tina lived in Stevensville. Rick was an assistant manager at Vineland Foodland, then
located on Vineland Road in St. Joseph Township. Unbeknownst to Richard, Tina was pregnant with their second child. Rick was survived also by his parents, a brother and a sister.