Lutz Makes First Court Appearance

By: Tony Tagliavia
By: Tony Tagliavia

Eaton County Sheriff's Sgt. Jeff Lutz made his first appearance in court Tuesday.

Lutz was arraigned on four counts in a Charlotte courtroom, including filing a false 911 report and reckless discharge, two misdemeanors. The other charges, both four-year felonies, are filing a false report of a felony and firing a weapon at a police vehicle.

Michigan State Police arrested Lutz earlier in the day even though he offered to turn himself in.

Lutz returned to a courtroom he'd visited many times before, usually as a prosecution witness. Now, he's standing at the defense table.

Lutz's frequent court appearances made him a familiar face to the judge. Judge Harvey Hoffman offered to recuse himself. But with the blessing of lawyers on both sides, Hoffman stayed on the case.

He proceeded to release Lutz on a $5,000 bond.

"It's a felony, but not one of the larger felonies," he said in court.

The Eaton County Sheriff's sergeant was able to walk away a free man, after paying $250, five percent of the bond, and meeting some conditions.

One condition: Lutz was ordered to turn over his guns. His attorney said that had already been taken care of. Another order? Lutz must continue psychiatric treatment.

"He started an intensive outpatient treatment program at St. Lawrence Hospital. He's going to continue that for at least a couple of weeks," Lutz attorney G. Michael Hocking said.

Hocking says his client's mental state has been questionable since his involvement in a shooting at the Red Robin on W. Saginaw Hwy. in Delta Township more than a year ago.

Lutz's condition grew worse about eight weeks ago according to his attorney, well before the March 20 incident in which Eaton County prosecutors allege Lutz shot himself.

"He went to the doctor and he was written some prescriptions for Zoloft and Attavan," Hocking said.

Hocking says those medications, which he says Lutz is no longer taking, were not appropriate.

He says Lutz is concerned about the racial debate that stemmed from the sheriff's sergeant's identification of a black man as the person who supposedly shot him.

"People say and do a lot of things that are stupid. But that doesn't mean this is a race case," Hocking said.

Lutz is scheduled to appear in Eaton County Court again about three weeks from now.

But when I spoke with his lawyer this evening, he said, depending on the prosecution's evidence, he may be looking for a plea bargain.


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