TITABAWASSEE TWP., MI — A steel door buzzes open. Dozens of inmates enter a white day room to visit with children, parents, wives and girlfriends.
In shuffles Marquise Cromer, a 250-pound-plus, 6-foot-3 convicted cop killer.
The 23-year-old Detroit man sits in a chair that seems much too small for him. He’s shy. Cromer’s eyes are dark and wide, his soft black hair twisted into short dreadlocks, his face pudgy.
Cromer was a lot thinner in his mugshot. He takes anti-psychotic drugs now that he’s behind bars; weight gain is a side-effect.
His absent gaze shifts between his jail-issued black sneakers without shoelaces and the cinder-block walls that cage him. No matter which direction he looks, he seems focused on something miles away.
Cromer fidgets, picks nervously at his hands and talks about hallucinations he’s had since boyhood. Among the most frightening, he says, are visions of aliens, vampires and God. He even, on occasion, has unsettling visions of a precocious child star from the 1980s.
“The little girl from Cosby,” Cromer says, referring to the character Rudy Huxtable. “I see her twerking for me, babies with pacifiers twerking.”
Cromer’s journey in the Michigan mental health system began when he was little more than a toddler.
His life has been a menagerie of violent episodes, suicide attempts and hallucinations that doctors tried to manage, mostly unsuccessfully, with medication and out-patient care. Despite several attempts to have Cromer committed, including a court order, he has never received more than a few weeks of long-term care at any given time.
Cromer would eventually be imprisoned for second-degree murder in the 2016 killing of Detroit Police Sgt. Kenneth Steil. He is serving 40 to 75 years.
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