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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

[MI] Officer DeKleine Wife-Murder Trial, Days 1 and 2

[I'm withholding my personal comments until the trial is over.]

...HOLLAND POLICE OFFICER KEN DEKLEINE HAD TALKED WITH MANY CO-WORKERS ABOUT HIS MARITAL TROUBLES, EVEN TELLING ONE THAT HE PUT A RECORDER IN HIS WIFE'S BACKPACK. "HE WAS VERY OPEN ABOUT IT"... A HOLLAND POLICE DEPARTMENT RESERVE OFFICER [BRIAN EHLER] TESTIFIED WEDNESDAY, JULY 9, THAT HE HAD A CONVERSATION WITH KEN DEKLEINE IN WHICH DEKLEINE SAID HIS TWO CHILDREN WOULD BE BETTER OFF WITHOUT THEIR MOTHER... EHLER HAD HEARD FROM MUTUAL FRIENDS THAT LORI EXPRESSED A FEAR FOR HER LIFE... [KEN DEKLEINE'S SECRET MISTRESS RICHELLE] VANDERWAL SAID SHE NEVER CAME TO POLICE AFTER DEKLEINE'S ARREST THIS PAST JANUARY TO TELL ABOUT THEIR RELATIONSHIP... [OTTAWA COUNTY MEDICAL EXAMINER DR. DAVID START] TOLD THE JURY SHE [LORI] HAD CUTS, SCRAPES AND BRUISES ON HER FACE, ELBOWS, KNEES AND FEET...

HIDDEN EVIDENCE REVEALED IN KEN DEKLEINE MURDER TRIAL
The Grand Rapids Press
July 08, 2008
GRAND HAVEN -- Blood-stained clothes and a gray nylon strap, allegedly used by former Holland Police Officer Ken DeKleine to kill his wife -- were discovered under insulation in the attic of his estranged wife's home, police testified today. The evidence was discovered after Ottawa County sheriff's Detective Tom Knapp found a hiking-boot footprint on top of Lori DeKleine's car in the garage as police began to investigate her death on Jan. 10... Among the items in the attic, where prosecutors allege DeKleine hid for seven hours before emerging to attack his wife, were a set of black plastic gloves... Holland officers gave him [DeKleine] the gloves because Knapp came straight from his house that night and did not have time to stop and get the standard white gloves used at the sheriff's department... [Full article here]

DEKLEINE'S FRIEND: MURDER SUSPECT OBSESSED WITH ROLE OF WIFE'S THERAPIST
Grand Rapid Press
John Tunison
July 09, 2008
...Testimony showed that a DNA analysis of blood found in a hallway and stairwell of Lori DeKleine's home matched that of Ken DeKleine. His blood also was found on a gray strap that prosecutors say was the murder weapon. A sweatshirt that Lori DeKleine wore, found hidden in the garage attic, also had her husband's blood on it... [Full article here]

SON TAKES STAND ON FIRST DAY OF KEN DEKLEINE'S MURDER TRIAL
The Holland Sentinel
By Megan Schmidt
Grand Haven, MI
Jul 09, 2008
Christopher DeKleine began to worry about 5 p.m. when he hadn’t heard from his mother. His mother, Lori, had not come home from work. Her glasses — which she wore every day — were sitting on the table. When he tried to call her cell phone, he heard it ringing on the bed. What the son of former Holland police officer Ken DeKleine didn’t know was his mother was already home — but she was dead. Christopher DeKleine, 16, described coming home from school on the afternoon of Jan. 10 to find her body, strangled to death with a nylon strap, on the floor of the basement in their Calvin Avenue home... Christopher DeKleine said he was shocked to peer over the railing of the basement stairs and see her lying in the laundry room. Sgt. Jeff Velthouse of the Holland police — first to arrive at the scene — testified that when he got to the house, Christopher directed him to the basement. There, he described what appeared at first glance to be the setting of a suicide — a ladder opened up, and the strap tied around Lori’s neck, strung through a rafter in the ceiling. The ladder was “too far from the body,” for the suicide scene to look believable, Velthouse said. Velthouse made the decision to call DeKleine to the scene and embraced him when he arrived, he said. “He kept repeating Christopher’s name,” Velthouse said. “He kept asking, ‘Where’s Chris?’”... Prosecutor Ron Frantz said that of a list of 40 potential witnesses, at least two-thirds will be called to the stand... [Full article here]

EIGHT MOTIVES
The Holland Sentinel
By Megan Schmidt
Jul 08, 2008
Taking Lori DeKleine’s life was “the ultimate act of control,” prosecutor Ron Frantz said Tuesday, July 8. Ken DeKleine had a variety of reasons for wanting his wife dead, he said. Frantz laid out eight motives during his opening statement during the first day of the trial:
  • DeKleine was angry over being served with a restraining order by Lori. She had filed the personal protection order on Jan. 31, 2007, fearing for her safety.
  • DeKleine conducted “extensive eavesdropping and surveillance” of Lori in the year leading up to her death. Frantz said DeKleine broke into her e-mail account to retrieve copies of messages sent between Lori and her attorney.
  • The DeKleines were in the midst of a divorce, and hearings for their formal separation kept getting adjourned for reasons beyond their control.
  • A custody battle for their two children, Breanne, 18, and Christopher, 16, was brewing.
  • DeKleine discovered e-mails between Lori and the organizer of a seminar on stalking — an event Lori planned to attend, where she was considering sharing her experiences.
  • DeKleine’s friend and former college roommate was also going through marital troubles, and he believed Lori was encouraging the man’s wife to leave him.
  • DeKleine became convinced that Lori was having an affair with her psychologist... [Full article here]

OFFICER: DEKLEINE SAID KIDS BETTER OFF WITHOUT MOTHER
Second day of testimony continues
The Holland Sentinel
By Staff reports
Posted Jul 09, 2008
A HOLLAND POLICE DEPARTMENT RESERVE OFFICER TESTIFIED WEDNESDAY, JULY 9, THAT HE HAD A CONVERSATION WITH KEN DEKLEINE IN WHICH DEKLEINE SAID HIS TWO CHILDREN WOULD BE BETTER OFF WITHOUT THEIR MOTHER...
On Wednesday, Reserve Officer Brian Ehler testified that, in a conversation, Ken said Lori was suffering from a mental disorder and that Ken felt the children would be better off without Lori. Also Wednesday, a coroner testified that there were signs of struggle on Lori’s body that were not consistent with suicide... [Full article here]

MEDICAL EXAMINER: DEKLEINE DEATH WAS MURDER, NOT SUICIDE
Jon Mills Reporting
WZZM, MI - 4 hours ago
...Ottawa County Medical Examiner Dr. David Start was the first on the stand. Dr. Start performed the autopsy on Lori DeKleine's body the day following her death. The doctor told the jury she had cuts, scrapes and bruises on her face, elbows, knees and feet. Dr. Start says the most significant factors in his homicide determination were the scrapes and cuts on Lori's neck, caused by a nylon strap being tightened around her neck during a struggle to stay alive... [Full article here]

DEKLEINE TRIAL: 'I KNOW WHAT I WAS DOING'
woodtv.com
July 9, 2008
By Joe LaFurgey
About a half-dozen Holland police officers who worked alongside Ken DeKleine testified Wednesday at his murder trial. And a friend of DeKleine's testified DeKleine basically admitted killing his wife during a jail cell chat in May. One of the officers who took the stand was veteran detective Roger VanLiere. He said DeKleine came to work late on January 10, the day Lori was killed. "There was a look about his face that appeared to be different than what I had seen before from Ken," VanLiere said. Brian Ehler, a Holland Police Department reserve officer became friends with DeKleine... [Brian] Ehlers said he told DeKleine he wished something could have been done to prevent Lori DeKleine's death. "Ken's response back to me was, Brian, you can't beat yourself up about this. I know what I was doing" Ehlers said on the stand in Day 2 of the trial. Ehler also testified about a discussion he had with Ken DeKleine before the murder of his wife. It centered on a training session Ehler attended, hosted by a local medical examiner, on how to identify strangulation cases. "During this conversation, I do recall Ken saying something about strangling someone could be, probably, a practice that would be difficult to investigate." Ehler and DeKleine discussed the DeKleine's marital woes the day before the murder. EHLER HAD HEARD FROM MUTUAL FRIENDS THAT LORI EXPRESSED A FEAR FOR HER LIFE... Thursday, DeKleine's videotaped confession is expected to be played in court... [Full article here]

WOMAN TESTIFIES SHE HAD SECRET AFFAIR WITH COP ACCUSED OF MURDER
The Grand Rapids Press
John Tunison
July 09, 2008
At the same time Ken DeKleine claimed his estranged wife was having an affair with her therapist, he was romantically involved with another woman, court testimony today revealed. Richelle VanderWal, once married to a Holland police officer, was in the midst of a divorce in 2006 when she said she met Ken DeKleine and began a relationship that lasted until his arrest for allegedly killing his wife. VanderWal testified today at Ken DeKleine's murder trial, describing how she met DeKleine in July 2006 and began a sexual relationship that fall, before her December 2006 divorce. DeKleine still was living at the Calvin Street address with Lori DeKleine until she filed a personal protection order in January 2007. They kept the relationship a secret, she said. VanderWal testified DeKleine was fixated on doing something about suspicions his wife was having a relationship with her therapist and planned to report the man to a state board... VANDERWAL SAID SHE NEVER CAME TO POLICE AFTER DEKLEINE'S ARREST THIS PAST JANUARY TO TELL ABOUT THEIR RELATIONSHIP. They eventually contacted her. "I know how police think. I was afraid of being accused of her murder," she said... In the early morning hours of Jan. 11, in an interview room at the Zeeland Police Department, Ottawa County sheriff's Detective Tom Knapp told DeKleine they had found clothes in the garage attic with apparent blood stains. During that interview, DeKleine claimed he left items in the attic while fixing a vent pipe in 2006 and had cut himself. When Knapp directly accused DeKleine of being responsible for his wife's death, DeKleine replied: "I don't know how to respond to that, Tom." [Full article here]

OFFICER TESTIFIES THAT DEKLEINE PUT TAPE RECORDER IN WIFE'S BACKPACK
The Grand Rapids Press
John Tunison
July 09, 2008
Testimony today revealed that FORMER HOLLAND POLICE OFFICER KEN DEKLEINE HAD TALKED WITH MANY CO-WORKERS ABOUT HIS MARITAL TROUBLES, EVEN TELLING ONE THAT HE PUT A RECORDER IN HIS WIFE'S BACKPACK. "HE WAS VERY OPEN ABOUT IT," Officer Jose Mendoza said, testifying about how DeKleine had mentioned that his estranged wife had gotten a personal protection order against him. DeKleine told Mendoza he thought his wife was having an inappropriate relationship with her therapist and was upset about it. "He felt the therapist was brainwashing her and taking advantage of her. He was trying to get that to come to light so (the therapist) would lose his license"... Officer John Weatherwax testified DeKleine told him he put some type of recording device in his wife's backpack to try to record information about the relationship with the therapist. [Full article here]

HOLLAND POLICE OFFICERS TESTIFY TO KEN DEKLEINE'S UNHAPPY MARRIAGE
The Grand Rapids Press
John Tunison
July 09, 2008
Ken DeKleine's broken marriage and frustrations over the divorce process and his estranged wife were almost common knowledge among many Holland police officers. "He was very open about it," Officer Jose Mendoza said... By many accounts, the veteran officer believed his wife, Lori DeKleine, was romantically involved with her therapist and he wanted to get the man's state license revoked. Several said DeKleine seemed obsessed with the issue. NO ONE THOUGHT DEKLEINE WOULD KILL HER, though... Fellow officers noticed a cut on his lip mended with stitches, but he told them the lid from a cast iron Dutch oven fell on him as he tried to retrieve it from a shelf. Prosecutors say the real cause was his wife biting him as he strangled her... Officer John Weatherwax testified that DeKleine earlier confided in him about his frustrations, particularly that his wife had a personal protection order against him... Weatherwax said DeKleine mentioned putting a recorder in his wife's backpack to "get information" about the relationship his wife had with the therapist...[Full article here]

DEKLEINE WAS HIDING RELATIONSHIP WITH ANOTHER WOMAN
The Holland Sentinel
By Megan Schmidt
Jul 09, 2008
While Ken DeKleine obsessed over the possibility that his wife was romantically involved with her therapist, he was hiding a sexual relationship with another woman, according to testimony on Wednesday, July 9... Holland police officer Jose Mendoza said that when it came to relationships, in several conversations, DeKleine only spoke about his wife. “He felt (Lori’s) therapist was brainwashing her and taking advantage of her”... MENDOZA SAID DEKLEINE ALSO EXPRESSED ANGER THAT HER THERAPIST INSPIRED HIS WIFE TO FILE A RESTRAINING ORDER AGAIN HIM IN JANUARY 2007, AND CALLED LORI A “CREATIVE” WRITER... [Full article here]

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