A man being held in connection with a murder in March in Hamlin Township had his preliminary examination pushed back into October after a hearing in 79th District Court Wednesday afternoon.
Nicholas David Blough, 36, of Scottville, is being held at the Michigan Center for Forensic Psychiatry in Saline while maintaining his competency to face charges from an incident March 16. Blough was charged with a felony count of homicide open murder short form and a felony count of assault/resisting/obstructing an officer. The charges are related to the death of Kenneth Lee Schweitzer, 71, and an incident with Mason County Sheriff’s Deputy Austin Mendez.
Last week, Judge John Middlebrook ruled that Blough was to remain at the center until a couple days before the preliminary exam. At that time, the exam was scheduled for Sept. 2. However, because two reports were not made available to the defense, Middlebrook decided to push back the preliminary exam date to Oct. 7.
Blough’s attorney, Tracie Dinehart, said Wednesday she did not receive either an autopsy report or the toxicology report from the prosecutor’s office — including after mentioning neither report were in her possession last week.
“It shouldn’t be an ongoing investigation. He’s been charged, arraigned and sent to the forensic center for these specific charges,” Dinehart said.
Dinehart asked Middlebrook to rule that both reports could not be admitted at the preliminary examination.
Mason County Prosecuting Attorney Lauren Kreinbrink said her office was not in possession of either report, and the office relies upon the law enforcement agencies to supply them.
“It’s not (up to) Miss Dinehart to say deadline for investigation,” she said, adding later, “From my conversations with (Mason County Sheriff’s Office) Det. (Michael) Kenney, he has not received an autopsy report. He has not received a toxicology report.”
Dinehart countered that she received a copy of the autopsy report from the medical examiner’s office after presenting that office with a request for it via the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.
Kreinbrink said her office shouldn’t be implicated as being unprofessional when it gave the defense everything it had in its possession. She said the office doesn’t seek out investigative materials from sources other than through law enforcement.
“We receive our reports from law enforcement to make sure that we have the same materials, that my office and the law enforcement agency has the same materials,” she said.
Middlebrook agreed with Dinehart that the two reports could not be used at the preliminary exam and instead, witnesses will need to be sworn in during the hearing. The reports, too, will need to be turned over to the defense within 21 days.
Dinehart requested that the preliminary exam then be delayed so she could spend more time going over the materials in light of the charges her client faces.