Teen accused of killing boyfriend to stand trial as an adult

By: Kevin Lewis Email
By: Kevin Lewis Email

The stakes have been raised in the murder case of a young man from Pipestone Township Mich.

On Jan. 24, Berrien County Sheriff’s Department deputies found David Quinn Jr., 21, shot to death inside a home along the 5400-block of Shanghai Road. Within 24-hours, investigators arrested Quinn’s girlfriend, Destiny Coulson, 16, on charges of Second Degree Murder and Felony Firearm Possession.

Until now, Coulson's case has been handled in the Berrien County Juvenile Court. However, a hearing Wednesday morning sought to change that.

Following an ethically driven “six-point test,” Judge Thomas Nelson said the court and public would together benefit from Coulson being tried as an adult.

Furthermore, Judge Nelson said David Quinn Jr. died in a “clearly preventable” way and stated because Coulson chose to live like an adult, she should now be treated like one.

Despite the severity of the hearing, Coulson, who’s since turned 17, appeared to be in a mental haze; keeping her eyes shut and her hands clasped for 75 minutes straight.

The Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office first called Jeanie Ernsberger, a ten-year veteran of the juvenile justice center, to the stand.

“Do you think Destiny Coulson should be waived to adult court,” Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Russell Szwabowski asked. “Correct,” Ernberger replied.

Ernsberger also made mention of Coulson’s checkered-past while she was a student at Eau Claire Middle School, where she dropped-out in the eighth grade.

According to education records entered in court, Coulson never re-enrolled in school or sought employment in the general workforce. Instead, the prosecution said the troubled teen began using drugs and alcohol while collecting mental disability payments and living with Quinn Jr. at the home where the homicide later occurred.

"She had a lot of problems with voices and just things she just kept saying were talking to her,” Coulson’s mother Tara Paulk recalled on the stand.

Medical documents obtained by the court indicate Coulson sought psychiatric treatment and was prescribed Celexa, a drug commonly used to treat depression. However, Coulson stopped taking the pills because she, "didn't like how the drugs made her feel.”

"It’s shameful the lack of follow-through that Destiny, and particularly the family had which led us to the path where we are here today,” Judge Nelson remarked.

Tears could be seen coming from the eyes of Quinn’s family members gathered in the courtroom, none more than when his own father took the stand.

"What has his loss meant to you and his mother,” Szwabowski asked David Quinn. It's pretty much devastated our family. I'd like to see justice and I believe that justice would be detaining her for long enough that she couldn't do this to someone else,” Quinn said emotionally.

"This punishment hopefully will send a message and serve as a deterrent to other young people who could go down the same path or whose family would allow them to go down the same path that ran here today,” Judge Nelson concluded before issuing his official ruling.

Following court, NewsCenter 16 asked both families for a statement.

David Quinn said he was pleased with the ruling, but didn't want to comment further. The mood was much different for Tara Paulk who began cursing and making threats toward the NewsCenter 16 news crew while in the courthouse parking lot.

“Get the f**k away from me and my car. Who the f**k do you think you are,” Paulk said before making physical advances and issuing threats.

Coulson will be transferred from the Juvenile Center to the Berrien County Jail on a $500,000 bond in the days ahead. Her next court hearing is scheduled for June 15 at 8:30 a.m. While Coulson, who entered a not guilty plea won't be in attendance, her attorney will as the court begins to set the stage for an adult trial.


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