Maki pleads guilty to 2nd-degree murder charge

The trial of a Fort Frances man charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of a local teen took a dramatic twist Tuesday afternoon when Doug Maki pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
“I’ve had some extensive discussions with my client and his family,” Maki’s lawyer, Gil Labine, said before Senior Regional Justice Terrance Platana at the Fort Frances Courthouse.
“And my client is prepared to plead guilty to second-degree murder,” he noted.
Justice Platana responded this would mean an arraignment and that the declaration must be made before the jury of seven men and five women, which was selected yesterday.
Justice Platana indicated at that time (about 12:30 p.m.) that there would be a recess as counsel clears up some final matters before bringing it before the jury.
“The consequences of this turn of events means that your duty will be resolved today,” Justice Platana told the jurors. “We’ll reconvene at 3 p.m. At that time, you will learn the facts upon which this plea is based.
“This will be the last day you’re required as jurors,” he added.
Jurors were asked not to discuss the case during the two-and-a-half hour recess.
Maki, 29, had pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder at the start of his trial Monday.
Maki was arrested April 4, 2000 in connection with the death of 18-year-old Melani Sutton of Fort Frances, whose body was found March 28, 2000 near a bush road about 80 km east of here.
Maki’s preliminary hearing wrapped up last spring, with his trial set to start Sept. 24. But new expert evidence from police came into the picture at that time, demanding further consideration by Young.