Grosse Pointe Slaying Suspects Sister Tells Family Troubles

Detroit Free Press
June 8, 2006

The sister of a man accused of arranging the brazen daylight killing of a bookkeeper in an exclusive Grosse Pointe neighborhood spent the better part of a second grueling day on the witness stand as two defense lawyers probed for inconsistencies in her testimony.

Madelynne Sorge, 49, appeared confused and unsure of her answers during much of her testimony Wednesday in Wayne County Circuit Court. Sorge frequently backpedaled under questioning from Mike Rataj - a defense attorney for Sorge's brother Joseph Marasco - and Antonio Tuddles, who represents Derrick Thompson, suspected of being Marasco's conspirator.

She also sometimes tried to talk over Judge Gregory D. Bill, who at one point instructed Sorge to "use your ears right now, OK?"

Marasco, 51, is accused of masterminding the contract killing of 57-year-old bookkeeper Barbara Iske of Sterling Heights. She was ambushed last June in the driveway of the elegant home Marasco shared with his elderly mother, Anne Marasco, who was described Wednesday as physically frail but mentally sharp. Iske had been a longtime employee of Anne Marasco.

Prosecutor Robert Stevens charges that Joseph Marasco hired Thompson and a third person, confessed triggerman Andre Williams, who pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree murder in the case in exchange for testifying against the other two.

Williams, who is serving a 20- to 30-year prison term plus 2 more years for using a gun in a felony, has yet to testify.

Wednesday's questioning focused on Sorge's rocky relationship with her brother, and statements she made to police shortly after Iske's body was found June 14 that implicated him.

Bad blood between the siblings stemmed from Sorge's discovery, during the hospitalization of her mother in 2004, that Anne Marasco's will left everything to Joseph Marasco, she said.

"That's when you found out, 'My brother's getting everything, and I'm getting nothing?" Rataj asked.

Sorge agreed.

"I asked my husband to please read it and see if it said what I thought it said," she added. "It hurt me."

Later, an attorney working for Sorge helped Anne Marasco recast the will so Sorge and her brother would get equal portions of the estate, she said. But when Rataj suggested that Sorge gets the entire estate if Joseph Marasco dies or goes to prison, Sorge denied it.

Rataj also tried to pin Sorge down on what she knew about the contents of a laptop computer Iske used in her work.

Tuddles also questioned Sorge about the relationship her husband - Joseph Marasco's onetime business partner, David Sorge - had with her brother. It wasn't a smooth one.

"Not after ... when Joe was terminated from the business" for breach of contract, she answered.

The trial is scheduled to resume Monday.