TRAVERSE CITY — BY ART BUKOWSKI
Multiple stab wounds in Carly Lewis' body were caused by police as they probed for her body in a large sand pile, a defense attorney contends.
The murder trial of Robert Jensen Schwander, 18, began today in 13th Circuit Court in Traverse City. Schwander is charged with an open count of murder in Carly's June 2 death.
Assistant Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Noelle Moeggenberg in her opening statements said Schwander repeatedly stabbed Carly, 16, with a scissor blade inside a Beitner Road storage hut that served as Schwander's temporary home.
But defense attorney Craig Elhart said Schwander instead strangled her to death during a heated argument, and wasn't responsible for a series of stab wounds later described by a forensic pathologist.
"These stab wounds were not done by Jensen Schwander," he said, referencing Schwander by the name he most often uses. "They were done by the Michigan State Police."
Workers from the state police crime lab were called to search a sand pile used by Traverse City's street crews after interviewing Schwander, who police said disclosed the location of her body. The sand pile is a stone's throw from the hut where police believe the murder occurred.
A forensic pathologist said Carly died of a deep stab wound to her chest, one of 10 puncture wounds discovered on her body during an autopsy. State police crews used a long metal probe to search the pile, Elhart said, and that probe caused the wounds.
Elhart will attempt to prove Schwander didn't intend to kill Carly, and thus could be convicted of manslaughter. A jury could convict him of first-degree murder — which requires premeditation — second-degree murder, or manslaughter.
Moeggenberg argued that Schwander, who lived with Carly's family after being kicked out of his own home, planned to kill Carly because he blamed her for his forced departure from the Lewis home.
Carly's body was found wrapped in trash bags, and Elhart told a jury he'll attempt to prove that holes in the trash bag correspond to stab wounds on her body.
"Is it logical for any one of us to sit here and believe that she was put in a bag and then stabbed?" Elhart said. "That is completely illogical. And each one of these wounds corresponds in large part to a defect in the bag that was caused by the Michigan State probe."
After opening arguments, the jury heard testimony from Susie Lewis and Mitchell Lewis, Carly's mother and brother. Both testified about a tense relationship between Lewis and Schwander, who was invited to live in the home by Mitchell Lewis.
"Some days they seemed buddy-buddy, other days they seemed like mortal enemies," Mitchell Lewis said.
Susie Lewis said Carly and Schwander appeared to bond at times — possibly over drug use — but never appeared overly close.
"They just really didn't get along," she said. "He told me and others that he didn't really like her."
Carly planned to meet Schwander the afternoon of June 2 at the Glen's market on Eighth Street. Police believe the teens headed to a storage hut, where they got in an argument.
Police said Schwander told them that Carly assaulted him at the hut, so he punched her in the face, and she fell and hit her head on concrete flooring. Elhart today said she continued to struggle and Schwander ultimately strangled her.
The trial will continue Thursday and is expected to last through the end of next week.
TRAVERSE CITY — BY ART BUKOWSKI
Internet outage hits Grand Traverse gov't offices, businesses
An Internet outage left several Traverse area Charter Communications fiber optic customers without the means to send emails, take payments, check out library books and perform the thousands of other everyday tasks now requiring online access.Continued ...
Constant snow = slick roads
The new week didn’t begin quietly in Kalkaska County, what with a new round of wintry weather.Continued ...
NMC weighs in on Amazon drone plan
Amazon’s idea to let self-guided drones deliver packages from warehouse to doorstep could make online retail soar someday, but its ambitious timeline may not fly.Continued ...
Mom drives with drugs, child
A Traverse City woman faces charges after authorities said she illegally drove a vehicle while under the influence of prescription medication with her son, 3, in the car.Continued ...
Embezzler says he sorry for crimes
A Grawn man who admitted he stole electronics from an employer said he’s sorry.Continued ...
Possible bomb a false alarm
A “suspicious device” that brought a state police bomb squad unit to a fruit processor’s facility in Grawn turned out to be no bomb at all.Continued ...
Clearing the Record: 12/10/2013
Because of a reporter’s error, a Sunday article on new legislation should have said adult foster care and group homes will be able to honor “do not resuscitate wishes” of patients.Continued ...
- Monday, December 9, 2013
City to increase focus on sidewalk plowing
City commissioners buried in residents' complaints about unplowed sidewalks took little warmth from efforts to increase enforcement of snow removal requirements for property owners.Continued ...
Interlochen Wendy's robbed; man arrested
Authorities arrested an Interlochen man on suspicion of armed robbery. Michigan State Police responded to a report of an armed robbery at the Wendy’s restaurant in Interlochen on Sunday night.Continued ...
Interlochen Wendy's subject of armed robbery
Authorities arrested an Interlochen man, 50, on suspicion of armed robbery.Continued ...
TCAPS reviews Cousins
Traverse City Area Public Schools’ Board of Education will release their annual evaluation of the district’s superintendent during a meeting tonight.Continued ...
Touching Michigan's History
Sometimes it’s best to sit on the floor and pass around artifacts to get a feel of early Michigan history.Continued ...
- Sunday, December 8, 2013
Officials question tax-exempt status of property that houses CVB
A smoldering debate over what some locals dubbed “festival fatigue” prompted city officials to question the tax-exempt status of the downtown property that houses the Traverse City Convention and Visitors Bureau.Continued ...
Dairy farmer goes against grain, succeeds
Dairy farmer Bob Plummer doesn’t trouble himself with the status of the Farm Bill in Washington these days. He doesn’t have to.Continued ...
Law will allow nursing homes to honor end-of-life wishes
A recent amendment to a Michigan law will allow nursing homes staff to honor the wishes of patients who signed “do not resuscitate” orders.Continued ...
Growing grapes, learning the biz
Sherman Atkinson is working toward a dream: his son Patrick’s dream.Continued ...
$20 million can't move Rogers City power plant
A 10-year-old quarry three miles from Rogers City remains just that.Continued ...
Scientists turn to math to analyze, predict weather
Think all ice is the same? That’s not the case on Michigan’s Great Lakes. And now scientists have found out how to detect the differences — with math.Continued ...
Feds' website gives states incomplete Medicaid data
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- People shopping for insurance on the federal marketplace may be informed they're eligible for Medicaid and that their information is being sent to state officials to sign them up. However, states say they aren't able to enrollContinued ...
- Saturday, December 7, 2013
Sewer plant fix up for debate
City and township sewer users could face significant rate increases over the next three years to replace treatment plant components that convert sewage into near-drinkable water.Continued ...
In old ruling, judge ruled DNA not essential
Accusations that Jason Anthony Ryan raped and killed Kalkaska resident Geraldine Montgomery in 1996 came about because a group that works to exonerate convicted criminals through DNA evidence took an interest in the case.Continued ...
Police chief woes continue
Frankfort city officials must renew their search for a police chief after their top pick dropped out.Continued ...
More property owners sue over Boardman flooding
A new group of Boardman River property owners is suing over flooding caused by removal of the Brown Bridge Dam.Continued ...
Drug charge dropped
Authorities dismissed a felony drug charge against a Traverse City man accused of possessing a designer drug.Continued ...
- Friday, December 6, 2013
Video: Community Tree Lighting
Watch Santa Claus arrive in Traverse City and help locals light the downtown tree tonight.Continued ...
- Internet outage hits Grand Traverse gov't offices, businesses