Police officers testify on Day 3 of Ken Bluew murder trial
TV5's Liz Gelardi filing her stories while working remotely on a laptop.
SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -
Day three of testimony has come to an end Thursday in Saginaw in the murder trial against suspended Buena Vista Township police officer Ken Bluew.
Bluew is charged with first-degree murder in connection to the death of Jenny Webb, a pregnant woman who was found strangled to death near a police shooting range last August.
The prosecution says the baby boy Webb was eight months pregnant with was Bluew's child.
TV5's Liz Gelardi tweeted Tuesday that during opening statements, prosecutors said Bluew didn't want to pay child support, didn't want his wife to know about the situation and he didn't want a baby.
Following testimony at the Saginaw County Courthouse on Wednesday from several police officers, the director of Saginaw County's 911 service, Barry Nelson, took the stand. Nelson explained what a "radio check" is and why it's used to check in with police officers every hour to make sure they're OK.
According to Nelson, 911 dispatch uses numbers to identify officers in the field. Bluew's number was 604, with Officer Sara Sylvester's being 615 and Officer Tim Patterson being 618.
The prosecution tried to make the case that Bluew was unreachable for about an hour-and-a-half the night Webb died.
According to testimony, central dispatch radio checked Bluew and Sylvester at 9:02 p.m. on the night Webb died, and they both answered. At 10:28 p.m., there was another check and only Sylvester answered; Bluew did not.
Nelson testified that for the hour and 26 minutes, central dispatch has no record of contact with Bluew. During that time, Bluew could not be reached by central dispatch, and Sylvester also tried to reach him via cell phone, but Bluew did not answer. Central also sent Bluew an alert tone, a loud sound that's supposed to get his attention if his radio is turned down.
The prosecution team presented evidence to create doubt in the jurors minds - what did Bluew do during the time he didn't have contact with central dispatch?
As testimony continued Thursday, it was revealed that Patterson, who arrived at the scene with Bluew, called in a suicide at 10:56 p.m. At 10:58 p.m., Bluew also responds that he is at the scene.
Gelardi tweeted that speakers were set up in the courtroom for the jury to hear the 911 tapes. At 12:29 p.m., Bluew was called off the scene by Sylvester. She had previously testified that she did this intentionally because she was uneasy about the situation.
When Bluew's defense team took over Wednesday, attorney Rod O'Farrell asked if Bluew's radio could have been turned down and he missed the call. O'Farrell asked Nelson, "Is it not unusual for officers to miss a radio check?" It was then explained in court that officers can request no radio check if they are busy.
Next on the stand Wednesday morning was Sean Waterman, the current acting Buena Vista Township Police Chief, who was a sergeant at the time and arrived at the scene about 20 minutes after the first call went out. Waterman was acting as the on-call detective that night and he testified that he read Webb's suicide note and then went through her cell phone.
Waterman said he found two calls from her to Bluew and one from Bluew to her. Waterman testified that Bluew's number was programmed into Webb's phone as "Ken Cop Boo."
Waterman said he asked Bluew why he was calling Webb and stated that Bluew told him they had known each other for about 10 years, that they were friends and that they talked from time to time. During testimony, it came out that Bluew told Waterman that he called Webb to check on her.
Waterman then stated that Patterson told him Bluew seemed nervous, and at the time Waterman said he equated it with the fact that Bluew knew the victim.
During afternoon testimony, Waterman was again on the stand, where he said he had to tell Webb's family that police had found their daughter dead on Outer Drive, in Buena Vista Township, were she was found dangling from an extension cord wrapped around her neck and tied to the top of her SUV's roof rack. Waterman testified that Webb's father looked at him and said, "no way, it wasn't possible, she wouldn't do that to her self."
Waterman also stated that once he found out the father of the baby was Ken Bluew, he "had to sit down because I got sick to my stomach." Webb's family told Waterman their daughter had plans to meet with Bluew that night. Waterman asked if Jenny Webb was depressed about the pregnancy. Her family told Waterman that she was excited about the child. Waterman was led to Webb's bedroom where he saw a crib, baby clothes, baby supplies and books, which told him Webb was someone preparing for the birth of her child.
Waterman testified that based on the information gained from Webb's family, which did not match the suicide note found at the scene, the Michigan State Police would be contacting them to conduct their own investigation. Waterman also told his police chief that he thought the Webb case was no longer a suicide, but possibly a homicide. The investigation was eventually turned over to the MSP.
Defense attorney Rod O'Farrell pressed Waterman on whether the crime scene would have been controlled differently if it was a homicide. Waterman replied in the affirmative. O'Farrell went on to ask about Webb's car being removed from the scene and the way evidence was preserved. "I did not see a need at that time for crime lab involvement," answered Waterman.
Following an afternoon recess, Webb's obstetrician, Dr. Jackie Robinson, took the stand to testify that she had no concerns about suicide or depression with Webb. It was reported in court that Webb had a doctor's appointment scheduled for Aug. 31, the day after her body was found. Robinson testified that at that point, as Webb was eight months pregnant, the baby could have survived outside the womb.
During cross examination, the defense asked Robinson if Webb had any stress, or concerns about missing work or medical issues. Robinson replied that Webb was easy going and excited about the pregnancy.
The next person on the stand was Brandi Richards, a co-worker and good friend of Webb's. Richards testified that Webb was easy to be friends with. Prosecutor Mike Thomas asked Richards about any signs of depression in Webb. Richards replied, "Just the opposite, she was always happy." Thomas started to probe Richards with questions about Webb's relationship with Bluew, but the defense objected and the jury was taken out of the courtroom.
The judge discussed the objections with the prosecutor and defense as to whether some testimony is hearsay. The jury was then brought back in and testimony continued with Richards. The defense then took over questioning.
Further testimony is expected to begin Friday morning -- count on TV5 to be in the courtroom with live tweets all day.
To read about Wednesday's testimony, click here, and click here to read more on Tuesday's testimony.
Copyright 2012 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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