Thursday, October 11, 2012

Officer Bluew convicted of Webb murder - NEWS

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Jennifer Webb convicted Ken Bluew by fighting for her life, prosecutor says following guilty verdict
By Brad Devereaux
The Saginaw News
October 11, 2012 at 8:30 PM
Updated October 11, 2012 at 9:34 PM

SAGINAW, MI — Saginaw County Prosecutor Michael D. Thomas commended his prosecution team and investigators who gathered and processed evidence in the murder trial for former Buena Vista police officer Ken Bluew, which ended today with a guilty verdict.

But Thomas said victim Jennifer Webb's actions on the night of her murder gave them the evidence needed to convict Bluew.

"Jenny Webb convicted this person because without her fighting for her life and biting off his fingertip, we wouldn't have had half the evidence we did," Thomas said moments after the jury's guilty verdict was announced Thursday, Oct. 11.

"He put his bloody fingerprints compliments of the victim on the car when he murdered her and he put his non-injured fingerprint on the suicide note when he wrote it out, typed it up and held it for weeks before he murdered her," Thomas said.

Thomas, who has served as prosecutor since 1987, said the case is the most tragic one he remembers throughout his law career.

"You look at the police officers in our community and you never think that they could do something like that," Thomas said.

The Michigan State Police investigative arm and the Michigan State crime lab deserve credit for the outcome of the case, along with chief assistant prosecutor Jeff Stroud, Thomas said.

"The Webb family is tremendously satisfied with this verdict, and we are too," Thomas said.

Members of Webb's family gathered outside the courtroom after the guilty verdict was read.

A date for sentencing has not been set.


Ken Bluew found guilty in murder of pregnant Jennifer Webb; family of victim thankful for justice
By Brad Devereaux
The Saginaw News
October 11, 2012 at 8:00 PM
Updated October 11, 2012 at 9:39 PM

SAGINAW, MI — When family members of Jennifer Webb learned of her death, an apparent suicide in August 2011, it was amid confusion and shock and without warning.

Following the announcement today that former Buena Vista police officer Ken Bluew is guilty of murder for the then-pregnant Webb, the victim's family members feel that justice has been served, but they still wonder why Bluew thought she had to die.

"There will never be closure, but we know that justice has been done," said Jennifer Webb's aunt, Sharon Meyers. She and her husband, Dave Meyers, gathered with other members of Webb's family outside the courtroom on the fourth floor of the Saginaw County Governmental Center.

  Meyers is the sister of Webb's father, Donald Webb.

"Two families have been destroyed," she said, "and we still don't know why (Bluew) made the choices he did."

Meyers thanked the prosecutors and detectives for seeking justice in the case.

The couple's son and Webb's first cousin, Jonathon Meyers, 28, said when he found out by text message that Webb had committed suicide, it didn't seem right.

He said Webb was excited about the baby that she planned to give birth to and she was not suicidal, contrary to what the defense argued during the nearly three-week trial.

"It's been a long year," Meyers said. "I wouldn't wish this on anybody."

The trial made him think about how Bluew took an oath to protect and serve, Meyers said, but he did just the opposite.

"It goes to show you there are people out there who think they are above the law," he said.

Family members hugged and spoke among themselves before taking the elevator to the exit on the first floor of the courtroom.

The murder charge carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The jury also convicted Bluew, 37, of assaulting a pregnant individual intentionally causing miscarriage or stillbirth of a fetus or embryo and two counts of possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony.

A sentencing date has not been set.


Jennifer Webb's family, friends react to Ken Bluew guilty verdict in the pregnant Webb's death
By Bob Johnson
The Saginaw News
October 11, 2012 at 6:50 PM
Updated October 12, 2012 at 3:22 AM

SAGINAW, MI — The jury in the murder trial of suspended Buena Vista police officer Kenneth T. Bluew took less than two hours to reach a guilty verdict.

Despite the conviction of first-degree premeditated murder in the Aug. 30, 2011, death of Jennifer Webb, who was eight months pregnant with Bluew's son, there is no happiness, Webb's aunt said.

“There were no winners for (Bluew’s) family or ours," Barb McNally said. "But I’m satisfied with the verdict."

McNally, who lives in Manistique, said she has been in Saginaw since jury selection began Sept. 19 and was satisfied with the verdict.

“I’ve been here since the beginning (of trial), and I will be here for sentencing,” she said.

Dee Mills, 59, of Bridgeport Township is not related to Webb but said Webb was like family to her.

“She spent a lot of time with our family,” Mills said. “She was so looking forward to (having) this baby.”

“I told her, ‘Jenny, I want to be the baby’s second grandma,’ ” Mills said. "She told me, ‘You’re going to have to get in line.’ ”

Mills said she too will be present for Bluew’s sentencing.

The murder charge carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The jury also convicted Bluew, 37, of assaulting a pregnant individual intentionally causing miscarriage or stillbirth of a fetus or embryo and two counts of possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony.

A sentencing date has not been set.


Jennifer Webb's mother: Convicted murderer Ken Bluew 'knew what he had done'
By Andy Hoag
The Saginaw News
October 11, 2012 at 6:15 PM
Updated January 31, 2013 at 3:28 PM

SAGINAW, MI — When Dawn Webb's three children were younger and found themselves in trouble, she would make them sit in a room by themselves and think about what they'd done.

Now, Webb said late this afternoon, Kenneth T. Bluew will have the chance to do the same thing — for the rest of his life.

That's because Bluew, 37, was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder in the Aug. 30, 2011, death of Webb's daughter, Jennifer. The charge carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. A sentencing date is not yet set.

Bluew, Dawn Webb said, will sit in a prison cell and have a chance every day to think about “squeezing the life out of my daughter.”

“He was way too smug, like he was going to get away with it,” Webb said of Bluew. “But he knew what he had done.”
  After listening to 11 days of testimony and about three hours of closing arguments Thursday, Oct. 11, a jury of seven women and five men exited Saginaw County Circuit Judge Darnell Jackson's courtroom about 1:45 p.m. to begin deliberating. Jackson told them to take an hour to eat lunch, but it's unclear if the jurors deliberated while eating. The jurors declined comment as they exited the Saginaw County Governmental Center.

The jurors reached their verdict about 3:50 p.m., also convicting Bluew of assaulting a pregnant individual intentionally causing miscarriage or stillbirth of a fetus or embryo and two counts of possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony. Bluew, a Buena Vista Township police officer, was armed and on duty at the time of the killing.

Bluew, surrounded by nine Saginaw County sheriff's deputies, showed no emotion as the jury foreman read the verdict. His attorney, Rod O'Farrell, declined comment.

Members of both Bluew's and Webb's family wept, albeit quietly, as they heard the verdict.

“I wanted to jump up and down and yell,” Dawn Webb said, noting that Jackson told those in the gallery to not have any emotional outbursts.

Webb and her family shared hugs and smiles of relief outside Saginaw County Prosecutor Michael D. Thomas' office.

“We can go around and mope and wail and carry on, but it's not going to bring her back,” Webb said.

Despite the relief, Webb added that “there are no winners in this at all.”

“I'll never know my grandson,” she said. “There are a lot of victims in this.”

Bluew and fellow Buena Vista Police Officer Tim Patterson found the 32-year-old Webb's body hanging by an extension cord from the roof rack of her Pontiac Aztek at North Outer and Hack in Buena Vista Township.

Bluew, who did not testify, told Michigan State Police Detective Sgts. Allan Ogg and Jason Teddy, now a lieutenant, that he had arrived at the scene just before Patterson did. Bluew said he found an “obvious suicide note” in Webb's purse and didn't recognize Webb until he saw her driver's license.

After two-plus hours of denying that he had sex with Webb and that he was the father of her child, whom Webb planned to name Braxton, Bluew finally admitted to having sex with her and acknowledged the possibility that he was the father when Teddy and Ogg asked to take a “buccal swab” from his inner cheek to obtain a DNA sample.

Lisa Ramos, a DNA expert from the state police, testified that a DNA test showed that Bluew was the father of the baby.

Saginaw County Medical Examiner Kanu Virani testified that he ruled Webb's death a homicide by carotid neck compression through the use of a choke hold and not a suicide by strangulation. Virani said his opinion was that the extension cord was tied around Webb's neck after she died.

Dawn Webb said today that part of her relief stemmed from the fact that “it's been a very long year” and thanked Thomas, Chief Assistant Prosecutor Jeffrey D. Stroud, and the state police investigators.

“They were very professional,” she said. “We knew that they were in our corner.”

Webb and her husband, Donald Webb, were surrounded by family and friends who, along with Bluew's family, packed the courtroom each day throughout the trial.

“She had so many friends,” Webb said of her daughter. “We received support from Sweden, Hawaii, Venezuela — friends that she had who have moved away.

“I don't know how to thank everybody,” she continued. “The support was overwhelming.”

BREAKING: Ken Bluew guilty of first-degree murder of the pregnant Jennifer Webb
By Andy Hoag
The Saginaw News
October 11, 2012 at 4:11 PM
Updated January 31, 2013 at 3:29 PM

SAGINAW, MI — Kenneth T. Bluew will spend the rest of his life in prison after a jury this afternoon convicted him of murdering Jennifer Webb, the woman who was eight months pregnant with his son.

After deliberating for about two hours, the jury of seven women and five men convicted Bluew, 37, of first-degree premeditated murder in Webb's Aug. 30, 2011, death at North Outer and Hack in Buena Vista Township.

The charge carries a mandatory penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

After listening to about three hours of closing arguments regarding whether Kenneth T. Bluew killed Jennifer Webb, the 12 jurors today exited Saginaw County Circuit Judge Darnell Jackson's courtroom about 1:45 p.m. to begin deliberating.

Saginaw County Prosecutor Michael D. Thomas delivered a 55-minute closing argument, telling the jury there was “overwhelming” evidence that Bluew planned to kill Webb, who planned to name her son Braxton. Bluew's attorney, Rod O'Farrell, spent 80 minutes arguing that the Michigan State Police's investigation was flawed and that Webb committed suicide. Thomas followed with a rebuttal argument that lasted about 30 minutes.

Prior to the closing arguments, Bluew elected against testifying on his own behalf.

The jury also convicted Bluew, who lived in Saginaw Township, of assaulting a pregnant individual intentionally causing miscarriage or stillbirth of a fetus or embryo and two counts of possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony.

A sentencing date is not yet set.

Jury finds Ken Bluew guilty of first-degree murder

Posted: Oct 11, 2012 8:35 AM CDT
Updated: Nov 08, 2012 8:36 AM CST
By Tom Plahutnik, Web Editor/Producer

SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) - 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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