The Culbert Family Genealogy Project:
 Connecting a Migratory People

Johnny Lee CULBERT, II

Male 1989 - 2006  (~ 19 years)

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  • Name Johnny Lee CULBERT  [1
    Suffix II 
    Born Between 1987 and 1989  [1, 2
    Gender Male 
    Died 25 May 2006  Lincoln Park, Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, U.S.A. Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Person ID I9148  Culbert
    Last Modified 24 Oct 2015 

    Father J.L. CULBERT, I 
    Mother R. WHYTE 
    Family ID F1776  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsDied - 25 May 2006 - Lincoln Park, Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan, U.S.A. Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Notes 
    • Teenage friends Johnny Lee Culbert II and Steven Rodriguez were drinking 40-ounce beers in a wooded area along Ecorse Creek in Lincoln Park in the early morning hours of May 25. But something went wrong. And though why it happened isn't clear, police say Rodriguez, 15, turned on his friend, beating Culbert, 19, of Lincoln Park to death with a tree branch. Afterward, police said Rodriguez, also of Lincoln Park, threw the beer bottles into Ecorse Creek, took Culbert's money and went to another friend's house to clean the blood off his clothes. Police found Culbert lying face up in about 10 inches of water with a branch protruding from his mouth and a gaping wound on the side of his head. Lincoln Park District Judge David Bajorek ordered Rodriguez on Thursday to stand trial on second-degree and felony murder charges in Culbert's death. Though he is 15, he is charged as an adult. Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Molly Kettler said
      Rodriguez lured a vulnerable, drunken Culbert behind the businesses on Dix near Outer Drive to kill him. Culbert had a blood-alcohol level of 0.24%, according to the county medical examiner's toxicology report -- three times the level at which a person is considered too drunk to drive. Kevin Ernst, Rodriguez's lawyer, began constructing a self-defense case, saying Culbert had a drinking problem that made him prone to violence. He also said Culbert first attacked Rodriguez and tried to choke him. Rodriguez may have used excessive force in defending himself, Ernst said, but that warrants a voluntary manslaughter charge, not first-degree murder. Lincoln Park police Lt. Ron Szlay said Rodriguez told police that he and Culbert got into an argument and that Culbert began choking him. Szlay said Rodriguez told police that he then began punching Culbert, but he kept coming at him. So Rodriguez found a branch, shoved it in Culbert's mouth and then beat Culbert with another branch, Szlay said. Rodriguez told police he hit Culbert "lots of times," although the autopsy was inconclusive as to the exact number. But the question of whether Culbert attacked Rodriguez first is disputed. Szlay said he saw no signs of injuries to Rodriguez. "It takes a lot -- a lot -- to beat somebody to death, especially if you're smaller than them, especially if they're struggling," Kettler said during the hearing. "This was a vicious, vicious, vicious attack." But Ernst said the situation obviously was self-defense. "He's a man," he said of Culbert after the hearing. "My guy's a boy. And he's choking him. That seems like self-defense to me." Rodriguez is being held without bond at the Wayne County Juvenile Detention Facility. Culbert's mother, Regina Whyte, and other family and friends at the hearing wore T-shirts with Culbert's photo. Whyte said she had known Rodriguez for a year and that he even had lived in her home for part of that time. Rodriguez had run away and Culbert asked her to let him stay in their house so he wouldn't have to live on the street, Whyte said. Rodriguez had been charged with first-degree murder and felony murder, but Bajorek ruled there was insufficient evidence of premeditation to warrant that charge. An arraignment is set for July 6. [1]
    • LINCOLN PARK -- The murder of a former student in May has prompted Lincoln Park Public Schools to join a handful of Metro Detroit districts requiring middle and high school students to wear identification tags while in school... Superintendent Randall Kite said the move was prompted by the May 25 murder of former student Johnny Lee Culbert II, 17. Steven Rodriguez, a 15-year-old sophomore, faces an Oct. 4 murder trial in Wayne County Circuit Court on allegations he beat Culbert to death with a tree branch. The incident occurred in a wooded area, but administrators heard rumors outsiders might enter the school to seek retribution. The police have been called. Kite said the episode underscored the value of quickly identifying students. "Now, if somebody should come in and they're seen without an ID, then they're going to be questioned," Kite said.... [4]

  • Sources 
    1. [S893] Detroit Free Press, Teen charged in fatal beating, 436/1004, viewed 27 Jun 2006, 23 Jun 2006.
      See Notes

    2. [S894] Detroit News (The), 25 Aug 2006, The Detroit News, Kids in Lincoln Park get ID tags, article?AID=/20060825/METRO01/608250363/1006, viewed 29 Aug 2006.

    3. [S893] Detroit Free Press, Teen charged in fatal beating, 436/1004, viewed 27 Jun 2006, 23 Jun 2006.
      By beating
      See Notes

    4. [S894] Detroit News (The), Kids in Lincoln Park get ID tags, article?AID=/20060825/METRO01/608250363/1006, viewed 29 Aug 2006, 25 Aug 2006.
      See Notes