Bluew allowed to make private phone call to witness - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Bluew allowed to make private phone call to witness

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SAGINAW (WJRT) -

(05/04/12) - The trial of a former Buena Vista Township police officer accused of murder is scheduled to begin in September.

Ken Bluew is charged with premeditated murder of his girlfriend, who was pregnant with Bluew's child at the time of her death.

Bluew is preparing for his defense and has even called a potential defense witness.

That call has raised a few eyebrows within the law enforcement community.

ABC12 News has learned Ken Bluew was allowed to make a private cell phone call to an expert defense witness.
 
Some are asking whether he should have been allowed to make that phone call.

Bluew continues to sit in the Gratiot County jail while he waits for his trial. He is accused of strangling 32-year-old Jennifer Webb, whose body was found near a gun range in Buena Vista Township on Aug. 30. Bluew is being held in Gratiot County for security reasons. A couple days after Christmas, it appears he was afforded a privilege few other inmates are given.

"His attorney came in and spoke to me about this, and said I know you don't have to do this, but it's crucial to the case," says Bill Gutzwiller, Saginaw County jail administrator.

Bluew's attorney, Rod O'Farrell, asked Gutzwiller if Bluew could make a private, unrecorded phone call to a defense expert witness. Gratiot County said no, it would have to be recorded just like any other inmate's call. Gutzwiller decided to grant the request. Then, for security reasons, instead of transporting Bluew back to Saginaw, two Saginaw deputies drove to the jail in Ithaca.

"We decided to allow him to make the phone call right there in Gratiot County, in their parking lot by use of a cell phone, and that cell phone was a county-issued cell phone. My officers dialed the phone number, Mr. Bluew was in the back of the patrol car, it was secured, they stood outside the patrol car and they allowed Mr. Bluew to speak to the individual he wanted to speak to," Gutzwiller says.

When he finished the call, Bluew went back inside the Gratiot County jail.

ABC12 asked several Mid-Michigan sheriffs this question: If they were in the same situation, would they have allowed an inmate to make such a phone call? All answered "no."

In fairness, the sheriffs that we spoke to didn't know the defendant was Bluew. The case has drawn national attention. Gutzwiller allowed Bluew to make the call because he didn't want to jeopardize the prosecution's case.

"It was an accommodation that I could do without infringing upon his due process rights, and that's why it was allowed at that time, it is a very rare circumstance," he says.

Bill Gutzwiller says Bluew did not receive preferential treatment. He adds it was his decision to allow the phone call, a decision backed by his boss, Sheriff Bill Federspiel.

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