Ionia County woman loses court appeal over car thieving conviction

by SpeedLux
Tabitha Anne Deryke

An Ionia County woman convicted of car thieving has lost the appeal of her conviction and sentence.

Tabitha Anne Deryke, 35, appealed her jury trial convictions of illegally driving away of a motor vehicle and larceny in a building with the Michigan County of Appeals. She was convicted for it and then sentenced to Ionia County Eighth Circuit Court in May 2019.

The appeals court issued an opinion Thursday, November 5, upholding the convictions, stating “there are no errors warranting reversal”. Deryke’s four-to-25 years prison will remain unchanged.

Her police record describes her as a American female, who is 5’6 tall and weighs 169 lbs.

The case emerged from a September 2018 incident in which Deryke informed another woman that her boyfriend had beaten her and pushed her out of her car. Deryke asked the woman if she could use the phone of other woman and call for help.

Deryke used the woman’s phone for making two calls, then the woman asked Deryke to wait on the patio. The victim said she was going to drive Deryke to the nearest gas station, but wanted to get ready first.

When the victim was getting ready, Deryke grabbed a set of car keys from the victim’s house and drove the victim’s vehicle away.

The victim called police, who found Deryke driving the stolen vehicle. Deryke maintained that she had borrowed the vehicle from a friend.

The next day, Deryke informed police she, her boyfriend, a relative, and the victim were going to buy methamphetamine from someone, according to court documents. Deryke said on the way to make the purchase, her boyfriend became angry when he got to know that the meth seller’s girlfriend was romantically interested in Deryke, at which point, according to Deryke, her boyfriend beat her and threw her out of the vehicle.

Police found that Deryke used her phone to search for ways to disable vehicle alarms and disabling an in-vehicle tracking system. Police also figured out the sweatshirt, ID cards and credit cards Deryke had belonged to the victim’s daughter’s friend.

At trial, Deryke confessed she took the keys and the vehicle from the victim’s house but “testified she had done so under duress”.

It was said that Deryke testified that she only took the keys to the car because she was scared she saw her ex-boyfriend’s vehicle in the area. Expert testimony from the director of Michigan State University’s Safe Place Program suggested that Deryke took the car because she was under duress.

In her appeal, Deryke argued she was denied due process to present a defense of duress because a police video recording that would have revealed her demeanor and potential injuries was destroyed. The appeals court ruled Deryke didn’t meet her burden of showing that the failure to preserve the evidence caused the “destruction of exculpatory evidence”.

She also argued two of the jurors in her trial were not impartial given they worked with two of the police witnesses in the case. However, the court of appeals pointed out that Deryke’s attorney failed to challenge those jurors after they answered questions from the court associated to being fair and impartial.

Deryke is imprisoned at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility located in Ypsilanti, Michigan, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections. Her earliest release date is May 13, 2023. Deryke is also serving active sentences for two counts related to assaulting/resisting/obstructing a police officer and illegally driving away a motor vehicle in Kalamazoo County.

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