By Vanessa McCray
TRAVERSE CITY — A downstate man found guilty of killing his wife at a Benzie County resort seeks a new trial.
A hearing will begin this morning in Manistee in the case of Mark Steven Unger, convicted in 2006 by a Benzie jury of first-degree premeditated murder in the death of his estranged wife Florence Unger.
The hearing is scheduled to last three days, starting in Manistee because of that courthouse's teleconference capabilities, said Tammy Bowers, of the Benzie clerk's office.
Benzie Circuit Judge James Batzer granted the hearing and will preside.
Unger's attorney F. Martin Tieber, of Lansing, contends testimony presented by a doctor for the prosecution was "junk science and should have never been introduced."
"What we are hoping for is a new trial without this medical evidence, which is unsupported," Tieber said.
The Michigan Attorney General's office prosecuted the case, and attorney Donna Pendergast is expected to attend the hearing. An attorney general spokeswoman declined comment.
The Unger family lived in suburban Detroit and made a trip north in the fall of 2003 to Watervale resort, where Florence Unger's body was discovered floating at the edge of Lower Herring Lake.
Mark Unger told police the couple walked to a deck the night before, and he went back to their cottage to check on the children. Unger said his wife was gone when he returned, and he assumed she was visiting someone nearby. He realized the next morning she had not returned.
Prosecutors said Florence Unger was forced over a deck railing, suffered a head injury and was dragged into the water.
Tieber said neuropathologists will dispute testimony from a prosecution expert that Florence Unger "had to have been alive (for) 90 minutes," a "key piece of evidence" used to point to premeditation.
Unger was sentenced to life in prison. In 2008, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld his conviction.