Mother pleads guilty to killing daughter — (Lansing State Journal)

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Lansing State Journal

Published 5/9/2003

 By Robyn Rosenthal,  Lansing State Journal

Carol Ackels faces sentence of 12 years to life

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Carol Ackels is jailed awaiting sentencing June 12. She faces up to life in prison.  Sarina Ganser’s family members wept quietly Thursday as her mother described in court how she killed her.
Carol Ackels, 41, faces up to life in prison after pleading guilty in Ingham County Circuit Court to second-degree murder.  Family members are still grieving the loss of 22-year-old Ganser.
“I miss her presence, her cheerfulness, her good-heartedness,” her grandmother Elfriede Ganser said after the proceedings.   Ackels will be sentenced June 12 by Judge James Giddings.   In response to Giddings’ questions on Thursday about what happened July 24, Ackels said she went to her daughter’s house at 3241 Stabler St.
“And then you fired at least three shots?” Giddings asked.
“Yes,” she said.
Giddings asked Ackels where she left her daughter after the shooting.
“In the kitchen, standing,” she replied.
“I threw the gun in the living room and left.”
Ganser bled to death from four gunshot wounds. Ackels sustained two wounds from a 9 mm semiautomatic.
Ganser was trying to evict her mother and had a personal protection order that barred Ackels from threatening or attacking Ganser or entering her home.
Ackels refused to move out and threatened to kill her daughter, according to the restraining order.
Ganser was Ackels’ only child.
Defense attorney Gene Turnwald, who was appointed by Giddings after Ackels’ first attorney withdrew from the case, said the court proceedings are emotionally exhausting for everyone.
“At some trials there’s nothing good that you gain no matter where you stand in the courtroom,” he said.
In an unusual move, Giddings prohibited cameras in the courtroom, citing a little-enforced rule that requires media to file a request 24 hours in advance.
Turnwald said Ackels likely wouldn’t have gone through with pleading had cameras been allowed.
The minimum sentence for the second-degree murder charge is 12 to 20 years, Turnwald said. The maximum is life in prison.
Assistant Prosecutor Mike Ferency said he will ask Giddings to exceed the minimum recommended guidelines.
Ackels also pleaded guilty to felony firearm possession, a two-year felony. Giddings said the sentences will run consecutively.
Turnwald said he will ask Giddings to consider Ackels’ mental health when deciding her sentence. He said his client has been on antidepressants for about five years.
At the start of the proceedings Thursday, Giddings accepted a report by a defense psychologist that found Ackels competent to stand trial.
Ackels, handcuffed and wearing red jail garb, taunted family members before the proceedings started and had to be removed from the courtroom for awhile.
Contact Robyn Rosenthal at 377-1052 or rrosenthal@lsj.com.