The man convicted of murdering 51-year-old Michael Lawrence in front of his 8-year-old daughter in June of 2013 is trying to get a new trial.
Michael Lee Roessler, 25, was originally set to be sentenced last week after a jury concluded that he shot Lawrence over a disagreement outside of the Islander Tavern on Woodward Road. According to authorities, Roessler and Christopher Wayne Oliver, 37, were with a group that exchanged words with Lawrence when he rode up to the bar to buy beer and ice for a barbecue he was having with friends.
Prosecuting district attorney Janet Smith said during Roessler’s trial that Lawrence believed that the disagreement was over when he exchanged a handshake with the men, but the pair subsequently followed him back to his house on Williamson Road later that night where they began spinning donuts on their motorcycle. Eventually a fight ensued.
Roessler was convicted in November of firing the fatal shot that struck Lawrence in the head. Oliver was also shot during the altercation in both the wrist and the abdomen and was taken by car from the scene to an area hospital where he was arrested upon being discharged. Roessler fled by motorcycle and crashed into a rural fence. He was taken to an area hospital and was also arrested upon being discharged. Both men appeared at an arraignment hearing together – Roessler using a cane to walk and Oliver with his arm in a sling.
Oliver’s murder trial is set to continue when he appears in court in March. A third man, 23-year-old Justin Wilson, was acquitted of murder charges but convicted of a weapons violation.
Roessler’s attorney, Vittoria Bossi, declined to speak to media after his last court appearance. He will appear in court next on Feb. 17.
Lawrence had four children including his 8-year-old daughter Mercedes – the oldest of which was 29-years-old – and worked as an electrician. His wife Esperanza was present when he was shot and his mother, who gave an emotional plea at what was originally supposed to be Roessler’s sentencing, said that she had spoken to him the day he was killed and made plans to see him the next day.