Beheading was 'evil,' judge tells Orlewicz

10:02 AM, May 12, 2008   |    comments
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Calling him evil, a Wayne County judge sentenced 18-year-old Jean Pierre Orlewicz to life in prison today for the stabbing death and decapitation of a 26-year-old River Rouge man. Emotions ran high from family members during the 20-minute hearing in front of Circuit Judge Annette Berry. But Orlewicz, of Plymouth Township remained stoic and did not address the court when given the chance. “I am grateful that you are going away for the rest of your life,” Berry said. “Because in my view, I believe you would have killed again.” Orlewicz has no chance of parole on the April 16 first-degree murder conviction. Orlewicz lured his friend Daniel Sorensen to a Canton home on Nov. 7 before slitting his throat from behind and stabbing him 12 more times in the garage. He subsequently beheaded him with a hack saw and burned his fingertips with a blow torch. Sorensen's father, James Sorensen, called the killing “the ultimate act of cowardice.” “My son was a victim of a person seeking a trophy,” he said, choking back tears during his statement. Orlewicz sat in front of Sorensen's parents with his hands folded, looking straight ahead, without reacting. Kimberly Sorensen, Daniel Sorensen's mother, said she can't bring herself to hate Orlewicz. “I hate what he did. But I can't hate him,” she said. “I look at him and I feel such an all encompassing degree of pain. If he had just made better choices, things would be so much different for all the lives that have been affected.” Berry called the killing “an evil act.” “There is a difference between mental illness in this country and evil,” she said. “But your actions, sir, are tantamount to evil. No two ways about it.” Orlewicz's accomplice, Alexander Letkemamn, 18, of Westland, pleaded guilty April 1 to second-degree murder and testified during the murder trial last month. Letkemann testified that Orlewicz told him Sorensen owed him money and had his gun. Prosecutors have said Orlewicz, known as J.P., killed Sorensen for a thrill. “He simply wanted to see what it was like to take a human life,” James Sorensen said of Orlewicz. Letkemann said he assisted in cleaning up the scene to clear a $100 debt to Orlewicz and accompanied him to an empty lot in Northville Township, where they dumped Sorensen's torso. Orlewicz doused the torso in gasoline and set it on fire and later threw the head in the Rouge River. Letkemann is serving 20 to 30 years in prison for his role in the murder. Orlewicz's lawyer, James Thomas, said he plans to appeal the conviction. He said he instructed Orlewicz not to speak today because of the appeal. “We had a different view of this trial,” Thomas said. “It was a hard fought case.”

By Ben Schmitt, Detroit Free Press Staff Writer

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