Published October 30, 2003
STANDISH — A jury yesterday convicted Raymond and Donald Duvall of first-degree murder in the deaths of two Detroit area hunters who disappeared 18 years ago.
The six-man, six-woman jury in Arenac County Circuit Court deliberated about two hours before returning the verdicts. Donald “Coco” Duvall, 51, of Monroe, and Raymond “J.R.” Duvall, 52, of South Branch, now face sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“God answered my prayers,” said Helen Ognjan, mother of Brian Ognjan, 27, of St. Clair Shores.
He and David Tyll, 27, of Troy, never returned from a hunting trip to Northern Michigan in November 1985. Their bodies have never been found.
Prosecutors charged the Duvalls after a woman came forward claiming to have witnessed the Duvalls attack the hunters on a dark, snowy night across the road from her home in rural Oscoda County.
Prosecutors told jurors in closing arguments yesterday that the Duvall brothers savagely bludgeoned Ognjan and Tyll to death and should pay the price after getting away with it for too long. “Don’t reward the defendants for 18 years of lies and intimidation,” state prosecutor Donna Pendergast said.
Defense attorney Seymour Schwartz said he was disappointed with the verdict against his client, Donald Duvall and would seek to appeal.
Defense attorneys had argued that the state had not met its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt and said the case against the Duvalls depended overwhelmingly on the testimony of an admitted drunkard whose story made no sense.
“We don’t know what happened, but we do know they didn’t do it,” Schwartz said.
The jury began deliberations around 3 p.m. EST.
The judge had informed jury members they also could consider a charge of second-degree murder.