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Another Murder Trial Begins in Allegan Co.


(Allegan, MI - WHTC News) - As one murder case is winding down in Allegan County, another begins to heat up.

Jury selection is slated for today in the trial of Van Buren Hutchison, a 46-year-old Berrien Springs man accused of slaying then 25-year-old Jeannette Reeves in 1992 and dumping her body in the Kalamazoo River on Allegan State Game Area land, where it was found 17 years ago this month. Cold-case investigators helped arrest Hutchison in Indiana last July, and defense attempts to prevent taped jailhouse conversations and other items that incriminated him introduced as evidence were unsuccessful. Hutchison could face life in prison without parole if convicted.

Meanwhile, Omar Martinez-Garcia, whose testimony helped convict Fortino Gonzalez in the murder of Leon Villa at a Valley Township home last August, is having second thoughts about a plea agreement that led to his cooperation with prosecutors. The 23-year-old Chicago area man was supposed to be sentenced last Friday for admitting guilt on second-degree murder charges in the case, but the prospect of life in jail, even with the possibility of parole, led Martinez-Garcia to ask for a delay. A resentencing is slated for later this week. Gonzalez gets a mandatory life in prison without parole sentence on April 30th.

-Gary Stevens, WHTC/WYVN News