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Man Refuses to Testify in Murder Trial

October 19, 2006

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. (AP) _ A man convicted of killing a couple refused to testify Thursday at the trial of his former girlfriend, who was also charged in the slayings and said she helped him because she feared for her life.

Macomb County Circuit Judge Richard Caretti attempted to administer the oath to Patrick Selepak, asking him if he would promise to tell the truth.

``No,″ said Selepak, who has previously refused to implicate his former girlfriend.

``I don’t know what I’m doing here,″ he said, laughing.

Caretti then excused the jury and Selepak sat down in the witness chair.

``Don’t you want to tell the truth,″ defense attorney David Black asked Selepak.

Selepak responded: ``I have nothing to say.″

The judge then called lawyers to the bench before ordering a recess.

Samantha Bachynski, 20, is charged with first-degree murder in the February killings of Scott and Melissa Berels, who was pregnant. She faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

Bachynski began crying after Selepak entered the courtroom.

She testified Wednesday that Selepak said he or someone else would kill her and her family unless she helped him carry out the killings.

``It’s not my fault,″ Bachynski said, sobbing as she did through most of her testimony. ``I didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t want to be there.″

``I didn’t want anybody to die,″ said Bachynski.

Prosecutors say Bachynski chose to help her 27-year-old boyfriend, who had been mistakenly released from prison, kill the Berelses, both 27, in their home. He pleaded guilty in July and is serving life without parole.

Assistant Prosecutor Therese Tobin asked Bachynski why she didn’t flee or notify police at a number of points when Selepak left her alone during the crime spree.

``He told me if I helped him get out of state, he would leave me alone, nothing would happen to me or my family,″ Bachynski replied.

Bachynski also said police detectives coerced her into omitting references to Selepak’s threats in a taped confession.

``They told me what to say, what not to say in those tapes,″ she said.

Selepak was mistakenly released from prison Jan. 10 and became engaged to Bachynski that day.

The case led to widespread criticism of Michigan parole officials who allowed Selepak to remain free despite a domestic violence complaint against him. Several parole workers were disciplined and state rules were tightened.

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