Edited: Wednesday, Sept. 18, 11:24 a.m. (clarification)
Jameskutty Varghese, an Indian national who is accused of the attempted kidnapping of a toddler in Shelby Township, was in court Monday for preliminary exam.
The 47-year-old, former Shelby Township resident pleaded not guilty last month in 41-A District Court to the charge, which carries with it a maximum five-year jail sentence. Britteny Wrobel, 25 said that she called police on Aug. 3 after Varghese took her one-year-old son Xach from her arms.
A court-appointed attorney for Varghese, who has been married for nine years and carries a green card, spoke with him through an interpreter of Malayam and asked Judge Michael Shepherd for a reduction in his bond. Citing a concern that Varghese could be a flight risk, Shepherd had set bond at $500,000 and Varghese has remained at Macomb County Jail.
However, Shepherd denied the request after hearing from representatives of Wrobel’s. “I’m concerned for the safety of the community,” Shepherd said. “While these are simply allegations at this point, we have a very serious charge here.”
The case was adjourned and Varghese is expected in Macomb County Circuit Court at a later date. Robert Wrobel, 26, who is Britteny’s husband and Xach’s father, said that since the incident took place, “everything has gone downhill” for he and his family.
“I’ve walked away from a couple of jobs because of the distance of being away from home and my family in case something happens. To be so far away and not being able to respond are scary thoughts,” he said.
Britteny recounted that on that Saturday afternoon, she had been on a sidewalk in her apartment building, located near the intersection of Hall Road and Mound Road. There, the incident took place “in less time than it takes to smoke a cigarette.”
“(Varghese) picked (Xach) up and ran his nose through his head and moaned … then he lifted him and tried to go with the baby. I ran after and went go to grab for him. He pushed my arm away. I grabbed the baby and ran to my neighbors and called the cops,” she said.
The couple, who also have a three-year-old child together, agreed that they were pleased with Shepherd’s response to the motion. “It’s a huge relief for us,” Robert Wrobel said. “(The defense) tried to get him out and put him back on the street, where he’s a danger to the public.”
Varghese said nothing during the exam, which lasted about five minutes, and appeared solemn in demeanor. Prior to his next visit to court, he will be tested for competency to stand trial.