HULLIHEN TRIAL: Father testifies about turning son over to police after murders

REED CITY – A pattern of threats prompted Blake Hullihen to suit up in a bulletproof jacket and shoulder holster when he met with Gabrielle Woodworth for custody exchanges, according to Blake’s father, William Hullihen, who testified against his son on Friday.

It was the third day of testimony in the trial of Blake Hullihen, the Harrison man charged with two counts of open murder and two counts of felony firearm possession. He is accused of killing Woodworth and Feneis on Dec. 7, 2011, in the parking lot of Chuck’s Corners Citgo Convenience Store in Marion.

Prior to his son’s arrest, William lived next door to Blake, typically spending his days with Blake and his daughter, of whom Blake had primary custody until November 2011. William described having a close relationship with his son. Because of threats he received during custody exchanges from Woodworth’s boyfriend, Donald C. Feneis, William often accompanied Blake to meet Woodworth and Feneis. On a few occasions, they called for police assistance.

The night that Blake allegedly killed Woodworth and Feneis, Blake again turned to his father for help.

Blake had kept his daughter home from school that day to spend extra time with her before exchanging custody with Woodworth, William said. That evening, Blake left his parents’ house unannounced, leaving his daughter with his parents. William was with the girl and wife, Regina, in his pole barn when Blake came in and asked to speak to his father outside. Blake told him he had shot Woodworth and Feneis.

“He said, ‘I just lost it and started shooting and shooting and shooting,’” William said. “I told him, “I can’t believe this. I can’t believe it.’ I told Blake, ‘I got to turn you in. Where’s the gun?’ and he handed it to me.”

William drove Blake to the home of Clare County Sheriff John Wilson, a friend of the family, and told the sheriff what had happened while Blake waited in the car. Sheriff’s deputies came to Wilson’s home, retrieved the gun and took Blake into custody.

William said Blake attained his concealed carry permit after the threats at custody exchanges began. Blake never let the house without his gun, which he carried in a holster equipped to hold extra magazines.

Although Blake met Woodworth and Feneis at Chuck’s Corners Citgo Convenience Store in Marion the night of the shooting, the gas station hadn’t always been their designated meeting spot, William said. Blake used to meet Woodworth at the home she shared with Feneis and his family, but the threats there became too serious.

“One time we went there and they said something like, ‘Ya know, Blake, this isn’t Clare County, boy. This is Osceola County, and out here, where we live way out in the country, we can bury you and no one will ever find you,” William said. “It became so regular. … He got so afraid that he actually went out and bought himself a bullet-proof jacket because he was sure they were going to kill him.”

Despite Blake’s fears, no weapons were found in the victims’ vehicle the night they were killed, said Det. George Pratt.

Pratt, now employed for the Osceola and Lake County Sheriff’s Offices, responded to the scene as a detective sergeant for the Michigan State Police. The shootings took place shortly before his retirement from MSP.

Pratt also interviewed Blake that night after he had been taken into custody in Clare County. During the interview, Blake spoke in a soft voice and sometimes cried, Pratt said. Blake told Pratt that Woodworth had been upset with him prior to their meeting, but he didn’t know if he had argued with her at the scene or if he had even spoken to Feneis.

Clare County Sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Garchow testified that William said Blake told him that Woodworth and Feneis had tried to attack him.

Blake did not tell Pratt he had been attacked.

“He was upset,” Pratt said. When asked if he had shot the couple, “He said I think so, and he recalled seeing flashes of bodies. …I tried to get him to elaborate, but he didn’t really go into any detail.”

Blake’s attorney, Dennis DuVall, is expected to begin calling witnesses on Monday. Testimony will continue at 9 a.m. in Osceola County’s 49th Circuit.