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December 28, 2002

Suspect in LaPorte shooting death arraigned

From: South Bend Tribune, IN - 28 Dec 2002

Tribune Correspondent

LAPORTE -- A man who allegedly shot his brother-in-law to death after the victim came over with a surprise Christmas present was formally charged Friday.

Alex Stassel, 44, was arraigned on a murder charge in LaPorte Circuit Court.

According to authorities, Stassel shot 48-year-old Michigan City area resident Arthur Lisiecki three times in the chest last Sunday and confessed to the killing.

The shooting occurred at a home Stassel lived at with his mother in the 700 block of Waverly Road near Pine Lake just outside LaPorte.

A preliminary plea of innocent was entered for Stassel.

He was given a Sept. 2 trial date.

Stassel was then ordered back to the LaPorte County Jail, where he'll be held without bond.

Several family members in attendance declined comment after the hearing.

According to LaPorte County police, Lisiecki went to the home to install a telephone specially made for the hearing impaired.

The telephone was a surprise Christmas gift for his mother in-law, who was not home at the time of the shooting, police said.

According to court documents, Alex Stassel told police he was in the basement upon hearing Lisiecki enter the home for the purpose of installing the telephone.

For reasons still unclear to authorities, Stassel allegedly loaded a Colt .45-caliber pistol and walked upstairs with the gun in his hand, according to court documents.

Stassel told police he saw Lisiecki in the kitchen and before shooting him yelled, "Get out of here you jerk," court documents revealed. He then allegedly shot Lisiecki.

Lisiecki staggered outside and collapsed in the driveway, where he was found dead less than an hour later by a passing registered nurse who stopped to render assistance.

After the shooting, Stassel told police he went back to the basement, but later went outside with a blanket to drape over the body when questioned by paramedics.

At first, Stassel claimed he did not know Lisiecki and was unaware of the shooting, police said.

When pressed for answers, Stassel eventually told paramedics, "I shot him" and gave another confession during police questioning, court documents revealed.

When asked about motive, Stassel told police, "I just wanted him to go away," court records disclosed.

LaPorte County Police Chief of Detectives Dick Buell said Stassel has not offered any further explanation for the shooting.

"We have not talked to him again and will not talk to him again unless he wants to for some reason," Buell said.

If convicted, Stassel faces anywhere from a 45- to 65-year sentence.

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