After killing goes unsolved 26 years, sufferer’s ‘voice is being heard,’ decide says

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GRAND RAPIDS, MI – A decide on Friday ordered a Florida truck driver to face trial within the 1996 killing of Sharon Kay Hammack, 30, whose killing went unsolved till advances in DNA science led to a suspect.

Genetic genealogists used DNA samples of semen discovered on the sufferer to slim down potential suspects to Garry Dean Artman, 64, and his three brothers.

Garry Artman lived in Grand Rapids when Hammack, who labored as a prostitute, was discovered certain and wrapped in a blanket Oct. 3, 1996, close to 76th Avenue and Kraft Avenue.

“It seems that she fought and he or she misplaced the struggle and he or she misplaced her life and nobody ever ought to need to undergo what she went via,” 63rd District Choose Sara Smolenski mentioned.

She mentioned Hammack “actually appeared to be an attractive individual” and that her work as a prostitute made her life no much less useful than anybody else’s.

She instructed the sufferer’s household: “I’m sorry for what you’ve needed to undergo. However her voice is being heard.”

Blair Lachman

Assistant Kent County Prosecutor Blair Lachman requires a witness throughout a Friday, Oct. 7, preliminary listening to in 63rd District Court docket for Garry Artman, who’s accused in a 1996 killing. (John Agar | MLive)

On the shut of testimony, the decide ordered Artman certain over for trial in Kent County Circuit Court docket on costs of felony homicide, open homicide and first-degree criminal-sexual conduct.

Richard Anderson and Russ Blake, who have been supply drivers in 1996 for an office-supply firm, have been headed to Battle Creek after they seen the sufferer’s physique, wrapped in a pink blanket and cellphone cords, on the facet of the highway.

Associated: Man’s arrest in 1996 homicide of Grand Rapids girl might assist crack different chilly circumstances

They might see the form of the sufferer’s head with a wire round her neck.

There was blood on the blanket close to her head the place she had been stabbed twice, Dr. Stephen Cohle, a forensic pathologist, testified.

He mentioned that Hammack, who was pregnant in her second trimester, died of strangulation.

She had abrasions to her neck and two non-fatal stab wounds to her left temple. She had bruises from blunt-force trauma. Her legs and arms had been tied, primarily “hog-tied,” he mentioned.

She had accidents in keeping with a wrestle.

“So, a sign somebody was combating for his or her life?” Assistant Kent County Prosecutor Blair Lachman requested.

“Sure,” Cohle mentioned.

Associated: Man accused in girl’s 1996 Grand rapids space killing held on $1 million bond

Kent County sheriff’s Detective John Tuinhoff was assigned the chilly case in 2021. He mentioned that DNA from semen discovered on the sufferer’s physique was submitted to Identifinders International to establish a possible suspect via genetic family tree.

The DNA pattern had earlier been submitted to the FBI’s Mixed DNA Index System, or CODIS, however there have been no matches. It did present a DNA match to a 2006 killing in Maryland however no suspect.

Garry Artman

Garry Artman, 64, listens to testimony within the 1996 killing of Sharon Kay Hammack, 30. He’s accused of killing her and dumping her certain physique, wrapped in a blanket, close to 76th Avenue SE and Kraft Avenue close to Grand Rapids. (John Agar | MLive)

The genetic family tree narrowed attainable matches to Artman and three brothers.

Tuinhoff mentioned Artman – who traveled quite a bit and didn’t have a everlasting residence – lived in Grand Rapids when Hammack was killed.

Sheriff’s detectives earlier this yr obtained a warrant charging Artman. He was arrested in Mississippi. Police used a search warrant to take a DNA pattern which matched DNA from semen discovered on Hammack’s physique.

Sheriff’s Detective Paul VanRhee mentioned that Artman in 1996 lived close to the scene the place the physique was discovered. Artman admitted that he picked up prostitutes, often on South Division Avenue, when he lived in Grand Rapids.

Hammack was identified to work close to South Division and twenty eighth Avenue SE, VanRhee testified.

He additionally learn elements of a journal Artman stored in a storage unit in Lake Metropolis, Florida. Police used a search warrant on the storage unit the place Artman stored most of his belongings.

Within the journal, Artman wrote a few girl, Tammy, he lived with in Grand Rapids who didn’t share his romantic curiosity.

Artman wrote within the journal that he denied to the girl that he had killed anybody however later mentioned he had.

He wrote: “If I misinform her yet one more time, then it’s over between us.”

Protection lawyer John Pyrski argued that the prosecutor did not tie his consumer to the killing – and confirmed “solely that he had intercourse with the girl.”

As Artman was escorted out of the courtroom, a member of the family of the sufferer quietly referred to as him “sick,” and mentioned he might “rot in hell.”

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After killing goes unsolved 26 years, sufferer’s ‘voice is being heard,’ decide says

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