Lutz Trial Begins

By: Lori Dougovito Email
By: Lori Dougovito Email

The trial for the former Eaton County Sheriff Department Sarge ant accused of shooting himself then blaming it on a black man is underway. Jeff Lutz faces two felony and two misdemeanor charges stemming from the incident nearly one year ago.

Jury Selection moved quickly and by 1:45 p.m. Monday, the first witness was on the stand. An Eaton Dispatch employee explained Lutz's frantic call to dispatch March 20, 2006.

Lutz yells at someone to, "drop the gun", then "shots fired, officer down." Those four words triggered a massive manhunt and investigation that first focused on a black man then, soon after, on Lutz.

Eaton County Prosecutor Jeff Sauter says investigators questioned Lutz's story from the start. The number of bullet casings found at the scene, behind a plaza off of Saginaw Highway in Delta Township, didn't add up and the surveillance tape taken from one of the nearby stores didn't match his story either.

Sauter says Lutz's estranged wife claims he left suicidal messages on her cell phone when he thought detectives were going to question him about the incident.

Lutz's defense attorney, Mike Maddalino, says there's no way he can get a fair trial in Eaton County. He again asked for a change of venue, it was denied.

Lutz's trial continues Tuesday.


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