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Michigan soapmaker accused of killing half-sister in shootout outside family business

A Michigan man is accused of killing his half-sister in a shootout in the parking lot of their family’s soap business, prosecutors said.

Zachary Holston III, 50, was charged with second-degree murder and felony use of a firearm after allegedly killing Rita Evans Friday in front of her husband and daughter, the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office said.

Authorities said the siblings had been squabbling over their suburban Detroit soapmaking business, Kath Khemicals — where Holston served as CEO and Evans as CFO, according to WDIV-TV.

Evans, her husband and daughter allegedly confronted Holston in the parking lot around 9 a.m. and followed him as he attempted to get into his car.

The verbal dispute over paperwork Holston kept in the car quickly turned into a physical altercation, prosecutors said.

Zachary Holston III killed Rita Evans, his half-sister, after the two got into a dispute in front of Kath Khemicals, Macomb County Prosecutor's Office said.
Macomb County Sheriff's Office

Holston also allegedly pushed “away a young woman who was trying to get in between” the siblings.

That’s when both Holston and Evans allegedly drew their firearms and “exchanged gunfire” — but only Evans was struck.

“This is not the way for family to settle family business,” Macomb County Prosecutor Peter J. Lucido said in a statement.

Rita Evans went to confront Zachary Holston in the parking lot, even following him to his car, before she was killed.
The Black Femicide Prevention Coalition/Facebook

“All disputes must be settled civilly between parties in or out of the courtroom, not on the streets. The loss of a life is always a profound tragedy, and it is especially disheartening when it occurs within the bonds of family.”

Holston pleaded not guilty Tuesday, claiming he took action to de-escalate the situation before the firearms were pulled out.

Prosecutors, however, told Fox 2 that the soapmaker drew out his gun and fired while Evans reached for her own — which had been concealed in her purse — in self-defense against her brother.

A judge set Holston’s bond at $500,000 cash surety only, saying he thought the chance at conviction was high.

If Holston makes bail, he would be confined to house arrest, would be subjected to a mental health evaluation and would not be allowed to make contact with his sister’s family or their shared business.