Conviction stands in death of woman who harassed neighbors

May 3, 2020 GMT

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan appeals court has affirmed the murder conviction of an Ottawa County man who told police that he killed a neighbor on the day after Christmas because she was a nuisance to the neighborhood.

Wendell Popejoy argued that jurors should have been allowed to consider manslaughter as a lesser offense at the 2018 trial. But the appeals court last week said that charge didn’t fit.

The court noted that Popejoy put down his coffee on Dec. 26, 2017, retrieved a gun from his bedroom and shot Sheila Bonge in the back of her head while she was snowblowing in Crockery Township.


“A rational review of this evidence does not support a finding that the killing occurred in the heat of passion,” the appeals court said.

Police said Popejoy put Bonge’s unclothed body on a sled and sent it down a hill behind his house. The appeals court noted that the trial revealed tension between Bonge and neighbors.

“Bonge repeatedly harassed multiple neighbors by name-calling, yelling, ‘flipping the bird,’ trespassing, snowblowing snow onto her neighbor’s driveways ... driving on their grass,” and more, the court said.

Popejoy, now 65, told police at the time that he just “snapped.”