Monday, May 30, 2011

Mt. Pleasant, MI: Man to stand trial for wife’s murder

MOUNT PLEASANT - A downstate man will stand trial for the murder of his wife, a former Perkins resident, ordered an Isabella County judge Thursday.

Judge William Rush ruled after a short hearing there is sufficient evidence for Gary John Reen, 56, to be tried for the April 1 murder of Cheryl Kristine Reen, 51.

The former Cheryl Johnson previously lived in Perkins. She graduated from Mid Peninsula High School in Rock in 1978. Following graduation, she served in the U.S. Navy as a cryptologic technician from 1979-85. She most recently worked for a veterans administration center in Saginaw.

During Thursday's court hearing, the prosecution called three witnesses to the stand, including the sheriff's deputy who found Cheryl 's body in the garage of the couple's home in Chippewa Township and the forensic pathologist who determined Cheryl's manner of death was homicide.

Isabella County Sheriff's Deputy Mike Hosking testified that Reen turned himself in at the sheriff's department on April 1 and confessed to killing his wife.

Hosking also said that he spotted a gun in the couple's garage before finding Cheryl's body.

Most of Thursday's testimony came from Stephen Cohle, a forensic pathologist at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, who said Cheryl bled to death from two gunshot wounds.

Cohle estimated the shots fired at Cheryl came from more than four feet away because he did not find gunshot residue or gunpowder on her clothing during his initial examination. Cohle said Cheryl was shot twice; once in the left front abdomen and once in the left upper back.

Cohle testified the gunshot wound to Cheryl's left upper abdomen was the more severe of the two, passing through several organs including the pancreas and into the artery and vein that supply blood to the right kidney.

That shot also hit her 11th right rib and was recovered in her right flank area, Cohle said, adding he believed the bullet was shot from a medium-caliber gun "in the realm of" 30 to 38, or a 9 mm.

Cohle testified the other shot passed through the space around Cheryl's left lung, grazed her right lung and went into her right arm, indicating that her arm was extended from her body at the time of the shooting.

Although Cohle could not determine which shot was fired first, he said Cheryl might have lived if the shot to the back was the only wound.

Both injuries bled heavily, Cohle said, testifying the cause of death was gunshot wounds and that the manner was homicide.

Other testimony came from Gary Reen II who is Reen's son and Cheryl's stepson.

The younger Reen testified his father called his cell phone several times on April 1 and that in their first conversation, his father seemed nervous and worried. During the second conversation, Reen II said his father confessed to killing Cheryl.

Reen II also testified he contacted a relative to call police because he was in the Detroit area and could not reach local law enforcement and that his father said his younger son, Eric, was at home at the time of the shooting but did not know about it.

Reen is charged with open murder, punishable by life in prison, and using a firearm in the commission of a felony, a two-year felony.

Cheryl is survived by her teenage son, her mother and three brothers.

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