Tanaya Lewis, 17, was referred to the Center for Forensic Psychiatry for exams to determine competency and criminal responsibility after a request Thursday from her attorney, Mark Brown.
Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor Bill Cataldo didn’t object, saying there were “some issues known in advance,” but he did not expound in court on what those issues are.
Both Cataldo and Brown had no comment after Lewis’ probable cause conference in 37th District Court in Warren.
Lewis is accused of stabbing Danyna Gibson four times with a kitchen knife she brought from home — twice in the back and twice in the chest, with one blow hitting her heart and another puncturing her lung, on Sept. 12, authorities said.
Lewis chased the fleeing 16-year-old around their Fitzgerald High School classroom in Warren, yelled “I’m going to kill her” and witnesses said she was smiling and laughing, Warren Police said during Lewis’ arraignment Sept. 14.
Lewis is charged with first-degree premeditated murder and remains held without bond.
Brown told Judge Matthew P. Sabaugh there were some discovery issues and that he has received some papers in the case. Cataldo said authorities were able to do initial discovery, of which there is a “massive amount,” that they were still uploading photos and that they could get the majority of the material to Brown by early next week.
A preliminary exam set for next week was canceled, with the probable cause conference and a competency hearing to be set once the forensic center exams are complete — a process that could take a couple of months.
Lewis was escorted into the courtroom in a tan county jail jumper and handcuffs. Members of Danyna’s family sat on one side — including an aunt wearing a purple shirt with pictures of Danyna — and relatives who are believed to be Lewis’ parents sat quietly on the other.
Lewis said little during court except for answering a few questions posed by Sabaugh.
Danyna’s aunt, Angela Hudson of Detroit, told the Free Press Danyna’s family will be at all the hearings and called the possible mental health question regarding Lewis “some B.S.”
“It was calculated. It was premeditated,” Hudson said after the hearing.
She said the situation is “rough” on the family and that Danyna’s mother wasn’t in court because it’s “too hard.”
“It feels terrible. It’s just a tragic loss,” Hudson said.
The family of Danyna Gibson, the student who was fatally stabbed at Fitzgerald High School in Warren, created a video collage of her life. Detroit Free Press
Hudson said the family was told that Danyna was sitting in her seat and Lewis strategically was in front of her. She said Lewis chased her niece and attacked her.
“Who does that? Who raises animals like that?” Hudson said, adding that Lewis’ family has not reached out to her family.
Hudson said it hurt to see Lewis in court because “she doesn’t seem remorseful or sorry. She seemed very nonchalant.”
“It means she don’t care what she did,” Hudson said, tearing up.
Hudson would like to see Lewis, if convicted, get life in prison. Because Lewis is 17, she could get a period of 25 to 60 years in prison or life without parole at sentencing, if she is convicted of the charge.
“She knows what she was doin’. She knows,” Hudson said.
Prosecutor Eric Smith previously said “premeditation is abundant in this case. It’s simple as the fact that she brought a knife to school — that in and of itself is premeditation. But there was previous dispute, there (were) things said previous to this … the fact that the defendant chased the victim throughout the class while this was going on.”
He said this was the first homicide in a Macomb County school.
During Lewis’ arraignment, Brown told the court that Lewis had 4.0-plus grade point average and support from her family, and he was not aware of any criminal history.
Smith previously said that the attack was over something as simple as the victim being friends with a boy. He also said there was no altercation, and the stabbing came as a “complete surprise” to the victim.
Regarding whether Lewis made threats on social media before the attack — as referenced in a prior Facebook post by Warren Mayor Jim Fouts — Smith said police were in the process of gathering information.
Danyna was a straight-A student who was in the marching band, color guard and numerous other school activities. She died of multiple stab wounds less than an hour after she was attacked.
Warren Police Commissioner William Dwyer previously said Lewis was upset with Gibson because she thought Gibson was telling Lewis’ 17-year-old boyfriend that Lewis was cheating on him.
Dwyer had said there were texts between Lewis and her boyfriend, but he declined to comment further on them. He said police received information that the suspect and boyfriend drove to school together the morning of the stabbing to resolve their differences.