Steven Bruce DeVries

Steven Bruce DeVriesMichigan State Police Niles Post

  • End of Watch: October 12, 1972

At 8:40AM on October 12, 1972, the Michigan State Police Niles Post received a bank alarm from the First National Bank of Southwestern Michigan in Niles. Information was relayed via the radio to Trooper Steven DeVries who was already on patrol in the area. While other officers were en route to the scene of the bank alarm, DeVries stopped a green and white vehicle on U.S. 12 near Weaver Road for a traffic violation. He made contact with the sole occupant of the vehicle, Kenneth Oliver. DeVries wrote down his information on a notepad and was preparing to run a license check over the radio when Oliver suddenly opened fire on the trooper, shooting him twice in the chest and twice more in his stomach and leg. Oliver immediately returned to his vehicle and drove about three miles down U.S. 12 and left the vehicle at the Bertrand Landfill, where he ran towards the railroad tracks that led to South Bend, Indiana. After a short time, the trooper's body was discovered and a massive manhunt was launched including helicopters, airplanes, tracking dogs, and over 180 officers from 13 different agencies in Michigan and Indiana. Since DeVries wrote down all of the information on his notepad before he was shot, it was very clear who officers were looking for. With tips from citizens coming in, Oliver was apprehended the next day at the Show Boat Bar in South Bend, Indiana.

It was later revealed that Kenneth Oliver was not only the suspect in the bank robbery, but had also kidnapped the owner of the vehicle, Warren Williams, who was restrained in the trunk during the shooting.

Trooper Steven Devries was born on April 28, 1940 and resided in Niles. His body was laid to rest at Chapel Hills Memorial Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Oliver v. Koehler

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

March 22, 1982

Kenneth E Oliver, Petitioner-Appellant v. Theodore Koehler, Respondent-Appellee

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, S.D. at Marquette, Hillman, J.

Before: Lively and Keith, Circuit Judges; and Peck, Senior Circuit Judge.


The petitioner appeals from the judgment of the district court denying his application for a writ of habeas corpus in which he contended that he was subjected to constitutional deprivations in connection with his arrest and trial for murder in Michigan.

The petitioner was arrested in South Bend, Indiana in connection with a bank robbery in Niles, Michigan and the subsequent death of a Michigan State trooper. Petitioner made two incriminating statements which were later admitted at trial over objection. He contends that neither statement was given pursuant to a voluntary and intelligent waiver of his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and his Sixth Amendment right to counsel. While petitioner was in jail awaiting trial a sealed envelope was seized without a warrant as he was walking from his cell to the visiting area where he had an appointment with his attorney. The envelope was later opened and found to contain incriminating evidence. The petitioner contended that the warrantless seizure of his papers constituted a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The district judge who heard the habeas corpus case refused to consider the merits of the Fourth Amendment claim. Instead he reviewed the transcript of a suppression hearing in the state trial court and the opinion of the State Court of Appeals and on that basis decided that petitioner had been afforded a full and fair opportunity to litigate his Fourth Amendment claim. This being so, petitioner had no right to raise this same issue in a habeas corpus action. Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465 (1976). Though the petitioner contends that both the state trial court and the State Court of Appeals applied incorrect standards in disposing of his Fourth Amendment claim, the district court concluded that the state courts had properly applied Fourth Amendment principles as developed by the Supreme Court of the United States.

With respect to the two incriminating statements the petitioner contends that the state did not carry its burden of showing that the statements were voluntarily and intelligently made and that the record disclosed that police questioning continued after he had expressed his desire to consult with an attorney. The petitioner relies primarily on this court's decision in United States v. Brown, 557 F.2d 541 (1977), and the decision of the Supreme Court in Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477 (1981).

The district court again relied on the factual findings of the state trial court and the Michigan Court of Appeals in concluding that petitioner had not established violation of his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights. The state trial court findings are entitled to a presumption of correctness under Sumner v. Mata, 449 U.S. 539 (1981), and the district court held that the record supports these findings and that the petitioner offered no convincing evidence to overcome the presumption of correctness.

Upon consideration of the briefs and oral arguments of counsel together with the record on appeal this court concludes that the district court dealt properly with this habeas corpus action. The findings of the Michigan trial court and of the Michigan Court of Appeals were sufficiently detailed and clear and their presumption of correctness was not overcome.

The judgment of the district court is affirmed.

New York Times - Jackson, Mich., July 6, 1987 (AP) - The state police were searching today for three convicted killers who escaped over the weekend from the State Prison of Southern Michigan. The inmates were reported missing after a routine bed check at 9:30 p.m., Saturday, said Tom Phillips, a prison spokesman. The prisoners apparently broke into an office in the administration building, smashed some ceiling tiles and an air conditioner duct and gained access to the attic of the building, he said. From the attic, they walked down a stairs to a maintenance closet, and then out of the prison. The fugitives were identified as Kenneth E Oliver, 47 years old, of Detroit; Daryle Duane Bowman, 38, of Mancelona, and Joseph Lawrence Collins, 49, of Lawrence. The escape is the first from the prison's close-security area in several years, although there have been a number of recent walk-aways by minimum-security prisoners, Mr. Phillips said.

Kenneth E Oliver was shot and killed on December 3, 1987 by sheriff deputies in Mississippi, after committing another bank robbery.

- Chriss Lyon