By Cathy Taylor
Two hundred citizens were summoned to the Osceola County Courthouse on Jan. 22 for possible jury selection in the trial of a Harrison man accused of murder. Eight men and six women were ultimately chosen to decide the fate of the young man allegedly responsible for the shooting deaths of Gabrielle Woodworth and Donald C. Feneis, both of Sears.
Blake Daniel Hullihen,27, entered a plea of not guilty to four felony counts in Osceola County 49th Circuit Court. Two counts involved the individual murders with two additional counts of felony firearms charges.
Prior court testimony from Hullihen’s father, Harrison resident William Hullihen, revealed that his son Blake was to meet with Woodworth at Chuck’s Corners Citgo at the corner of M-66 and US 115, just outside of Marion, on the evening of Dec. 7, 2011, to return their 6-year-old daughter after his visitation with her. Woodworth, who arrived at the Citgo station with her boyfriend Donald Feneis, had been involved in a tumultuous custody battle with Hullihen in the months prior to the shootings.
According to Hullihen’s statement, his son returned home from his meeting with Woodworth and confessed that he may have shot the two victims because “he recalled seeing flashes of bodies.” William Hullihen drove his son to Osceola County Sheriff
John Wilson’s place of residence and explained the incident, surrendering the semi-automatic weapon supposedly used in the commission of the crimes. Sheriff Wilson, At that time Sheriff Wilson took Blake Hullihen into custody.
Osceola County Assistant Prosecutor Andy LePres and the attorney for the defendant, Dennis Duvall, made their opening statements Wednesday morning before Circuit Court Judge Scott Hill-Kennedy. Several witnesses were called to the stand to testify as to the events that transpired the evening of the shootings. Among them were Evart Police officer Michelle Gebbin, who was the first law enforcement agent on the scene. Officer Gebbin testified that she took custody of two small children that were in the pickup truck belonging to Woodworth and Feneis until Child Protective Services arrived.
Marion EMS Paramedic and Medical Examiner David Turner testified that the two victims were already deceased by the time he arrived at the scene. He assisted Officer Gebbin in securing the crime scene.
Michigan State Police Trooper Joseph Allen took the stand and was asked to explain in detail the photographs he had taken at the scene of the crime. They included photographs of spent shell casings, an empty semi-automatic magazine, as well as photos of the victims and their vehicle.
Jamie Kocur, owner of the Citgo station, was on duty the evening of the shootings and testified that he heard at least ten gunshots fired. Both victims had been shot multiple times.
Throughout Wednesday’s proceedings, Hullihen sat motionless making little eye contact with anyone in the courtroom. Aside from three reporters, there were only seven other family members and observers in attendance.
The hearing for Hullihen will resume at 9 am Thursday morning with the Honorable Scott Hill-Kennedy presiding over the trial.