MSP: Man killed in police shootout is 2009 murderer

Southwest Michigan

MARSHALL, Mich. (WOOD) — Authorities say the man troopers shot and killed last year is the prime murder suspect in a 2009 cold case.

In a news conference Wednesday, Michigan State Police Lt. Chuck Christensen said investigators are “highly confident” that David Kidney murdered Duane Finney in 2009.

Kidney was killed last year in an officer-involved shooting in Branch County. Two state troopers were injured in that shooting, including MSP Sgt. Aaron Steensma, part of the cold case team that built the case against Kidney.

Steensma was shot in the shoulder near a strap of his bulletproof vest and has spent the last 15 months in rehabilitation for his injuries, which will force him into early retirement.

“Going out like this tough, but yes, it’s a good feeling to know we solved the case (and provided) closure for the family,” Steensma said.

Trooper Dan Thayer also survived shots fired by Kidney, saved by his vest.

The weapon Kidney used — a Beretta 9 mm — matched forensic evidence found at the Finney murder scene.

Duane Finney was found shot to death on May 12, 2009, in a car in a field north of the Skate Ranch on N. Angola Road in Coldwater. Years passed but no solid suspects emerged. Then in April 2017, a cold case team made up of investigators from the Branch County Sheriff’s Office and MSP took the case.

Among the nearly 300 people interviewed was Kidney. He was a person of interest in the case early on. Kidney and Finney were one-time neighbors and had some minor squabbles over things like trees limbs cut down and soccer balls kicked into a yard.

In the beginning, Kidney cooperated with investigators, even telling detectives about two handguns he owned. One of those guns, the Beretta 9 mm, caught the interest of investigators because ammunition found at the crime scene was believed to be from the same kind of a gun. Suddenly, Kidney stopped answering calls from investigators.

With their interest piqued, cold case detectives obtained a search warrant for Kidney’s home near Union City. On Jan. 18, 2018, they went to execute that warrant.

“Which culminated in an exchange of gunfire between Mr. Kidney and law enforcement, which seriously injured Detective Sgt. Aaron Steensma and Trooper Dan Thayer,” Christensen recounted.

Authorities returned fire and Kidney was killed.

Investigators theorize Kidney followed Finney’s daily routine and managed to get into his car as he left for work on the day of the murder, then killed Finney as he drove.

Nearly 10 years later, detectives were able to deliver the news to Finney’s wife that her husband’s killer has been identified.       

“She didn’t want to be here because of the emotional aspect,” Christensen said. “But we hope by providing this information it will provide a modicum of closure to both her and the community.”

The cold case will remain open because there can be no conviction with Kidney dead, but it will not be actively investigated.

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