Jury finds Ken Bluew guilty of first-degree murderPosted: Updated:
The suspended police officer on trial for the killing of a woman and their unborn child has learned his fate.
Following the prosecution and defense resting their cases in the 11-day trial, the jury deliberated for about an hour before reaching a verdict.
The jury found suspended Buena Vista Township police officer Ken Bluew guilty on all counts, including first-degree premeditated murder.
Bluew was led into the courtroom to hear the verdict in handcuffs. There were nine uniformed Sheriff's deputies in the courtroom. The judge told the audience that he didn't want any emotional outbursts or he would throw people out.
Once the verdict was rendered, the jury was dismissed. Now that Bluew has been convicted, he faces mandatory life in prison when he is sentenced.
Saginaw County prosecutors said Bluew killed 32-year-old Jenny Webb near a Buena Vista Township gun range on Outer Drive on Aug. 30, 2011.
The prosecution says the baby boy Webb was eight months pregnant with was Bluew's child. Prosecutors said Bluew didn't want to pay child support, didn't want his wife to know about the situation and didn't want a baby.
In testimony yesterday, a medical examiner said Webb was killed by a choke hold, not the extension cord found around her neck at the crime scene. Dr. Kanu Virani, the man who conducted Webb's autopsy, said her death was "a homicide."
During the 11 day trial, Bluew never took the stand in his own defense. Around 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, the prosecution rested its case. The defense called its one and only witness, Keith LaMont, with the Michigan State Police. LaMont examines trace evidence for the MSP crime lab.
LaMont testified about evidence found at the crime scene. He pulled a pair of flip flops out of a bag, shoes that belonged to Webb. LaMont also talked about a pair of boots he examined. LaMont testified for the defense that he did not find any footprints at the crime scene that matched the boots Bluew told police he was wearing. TV5's Liz Gelardi tweeted that the defense didn't take very long to question LaMont, and that the prosecution took longer with their cross-examination. LaMont testified that he found tire tracks on the Buena Vista Township Waste Water Treatment plant's driveway. LaMont told the jurors he could not eliminate Webb's Pontiac Aztec or Bluew's patrol vehicle.
After that cross-exam, the defense rested its case. Prosecutor Mike Thomas started his closing arguments at 10:30 a.m. Thomas told jurors that Bluew killed Jenny Webb so he wouldn't have to pay child support and so his wife wouldn't get a divorce. Thomas stated that the evidence that Bluew killed the mother of his child was overwhelming. Thomas said Webb was looking forward to having the baby, as stated by family and friends who testified. The prosecutor told the jury that Webb was hung after she was killed and that only one person had a motive -- Ken Bluew.
Thomas said that Bluew finally admitted two hours and 36 minutes into his interview with police that he had sex with Jenny Webb. Thomas said Jenny Marie Webb was murdered and did not die as a result of suicide, which was what the defense alluded to as cause of death.
Thomas brought up the Internet searches on Bluew's computer and reminded the jury that no clear answer was given as to where Bluew was on the night Webb died, between 9 p.m. and 10:35 p.m. Thomas said Officer Patterson caught Bluew at the crime scene and that wasn't part of Bluew's plan. Thomas said Webb became her own best witness because she bit her assailant's finger, a finger tip that MSP crime scene investigator Valerie Bowman found in Webb's clothing. The prosecutor said Webb convicted Bluew of her own murder, and that Bluew lied, lied and lied. Thomas said it was 23 minutes before Bluew recognized Webb at the crime scene.
The prosecution continued, stating that Bluew left his blood, his stains and his evidence all over the crime scene. Thomas questioned how Bluew DNA profile, 1 in 93.4 quadrillion, get on the back of her T-shirt? Thomas said the jury has more than enough proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Thomas stated that Bluew killed Webb in the driveway of the waste water treatment plant, then drover he to stage a suicide. Thomas said nothing indicates she was depressed in any way, and that the suicide note found at the scene that Bluew wrote is the strongest proof of premeditated intent. Thomas stated, "There is only one verdict; guilty on all four counts."
Defense attorney Rod O'Farrell then took over to offer his closing remarks. O'Farrell stated that other police officers were not sure if Bluew touched the steering wheel or console in Webb's car, and that Bluew had been in the vehicle before. O'Farrell stated that Officer Sylvester saw Ken Bluew's reaction to Webb's death, that he looked like he was about to throw up and that Bluew stated, "I know this girl." O'Farrell said that even with that statement, Bluew still did his job as a police officer at the scene. O'Farrell then spoke about Bluew's character and skills in his job as an officer. O'Farrell stated, "His work was above what you would expect."
The defense went on to state that when police arrived at the scene, Bluew was "their suspect." O'Farrell went on to describe Bluew's patrol that night. O'Farrell spoke about Bluew's denial on being involved with Webb and the baby, stating "He didn't tell the truth and I can understand why he wouldn't, but in the end, he did tell the truth." O'Farrell referenced the two separate police reports on Webb's death, that one left things out and another included details about Bluew. O'Farrell said the redness in Bluew's eye was from playing with a dog, and asked the jury if investigators ever followed up to see if there was a dog? O'Farrell asked if there was any check of the trailer park where Bluew said he was patrolling the night Webb died?
O'Farrell asked why there was no break of the skin in reference to the four linear marks on Bluew. Gelardi tweeted that O'Farrell was very loud, animated and walked around -- a big difference from Thomas, who was quiet and stared at the jury. O'Farrell brought up Bluew not answering his radio right away when Central Dispatch paged him, that not doing so promptly was incriminating. "It was only seven minutes," said O'Farrell. The defense stated that no trace evidence of Webb was found on any item worn by Bluew, and that Virani relied on external information from police to say it was a choke-hold that killed Webb. The defense stated that in treating the scene as a suicide, it wasn't treated as a homicide, and there were contamination issues. O'Farrell said the scene wasn't treated as a homicide until it was too late, and brought up cross contamination and touch DNA.
O'Farrell said, "In some ways, Ken is the victim of the way this investigation was conducted." Gelardi tweeted that she heard a few deep breaths and gasps when O'Farrell referred to Bluew as the victim.
O'Farrell said, "I don't mean in any way to denigrate her, but we have to look at what Jenny was going through. Her house was broken into three times, the last time [on] Aug. 27." O'Farrell brought up the text Webb sent that stated, "I don't know how much more I can take," which was in reference to the house break-ins. The defense attorney told the jury, "Jenny was the only one who killed herself, no one else."
O'Farrell finished his statements around 12:45 p.m. and the jury was taken out of the courtroom for a quick break. When they returned, Thomas began his rebuttal by stating that he heard nothing new to address how Ken Bluew could get his finger print on the alleged suicide note. "I heard no explanation for how Ken Bluew's DNA was under Jenny Webb's finger nails," said Thomas. "I want to you to take a look at his resume. He was trained in pressure point control tactics. This is supposed to be a self-inflicted suicide? It makes no sense."
Thomas brought up Virani's testimony where the medical examiner stated that Webb was dead before she was hung by an extension cord from her SUV's roof rack. "An innocent human being was murdered by the man who helped her conceive a child," said Thomas. "He couldn't get away with this. Well, he did for about three hours." That last line refers to police ruling Webb's death a suicide at first. Thomas then finished his rebuttal and the judge read instructions to the jury.
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