MOUNT CLEMENS (AP) – Two men who police say went on a three-state robbery and murder spree pleaded no contest yesterday to murdering a suburban Detroit pizzeria worker more than five years ago.
David Baumann, 24, of New Baltimore, and Dennis Bryan, 25, of Fair Haven, entered the pleas to first-degree murder charges before Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Diane Druzinski.
They will receive mandatory life prison terms without parole when sentenced on March 21.
“They were very subdued in court, like they’ve accepted their fate and they knew they were spending the rest of their lives in prison,” Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith said.
The two were accused of the October 2000 shooting death of 16-year-old Justin Mello during a robbery at Mancino’s Pizza and Grinders in New Baltimore.
Smith said the evidence against the men was strong. They confessed to the crime and had the murder weapon and Mello’s wallet in their possession when they were arrested, he said.
Baumann’s attorney, Ronald Goldstein, told the Detroit Free Press before the hearing: “It’s in his best interest not to contest the charges.”
A no-contest plea is not an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing purposes.
Goldstein collapsed during the hearing and was taken away by an ambulance.
Mark Haddad, Bryan’s attorney, stood in for him as the pleas were entered.
Haddad said Goldstein was laughing and joking as he was being taken from the courthouse on a stretcher. “He seemed to be in good spirits, up and alert. I guess they took him just for precautionary or whatnot,” Haddad said.
Baumann and Bryan already are serving sentences on murder convictions in Florida and Virginia.
Haddad said he advised Bryan against entering the plea, but Bryan made the decision himself.
“He must figure there’s nothing else they can do to him. He’s already serving two life sentences for other issues. He didn’t want to go through another trial,” Haddad said.
Baumann is serving two life sentences for the shooting death of Charles Lee Pennington at a Florida Subway sandwich shop in August 2000. He’s serving another two life sentences in Virginia for the stabbing death of gun-shop clerk Norman Pelfrey, which occurred just days before the Florida slaying.