Isaiah Wilks
Isaiah Wilks

Archived Story

Man sentenced for attack on two women

Published 7:49pm Monday, March 3, 2014

A Dowagiac man was sentenced to 93 days in jail and 18 months probation Friday for attacking two women on New Year’s Eve.

Isaiah Wilks, 17, was sentenced by Cass County Judge Michael Dodge on multiple assault and battery charges, including attempted assault with a dangerous weapon. Wilks pleaded guilty to the charges on Jan. 15.

The charges stem from an incident that occurred on Dec. 31, when Wilks was staying over at the residence of Vanessa Smith. Late in the evening, Wilks punched Smith and threatened her with a knife after she had asked him to leave.

“He needs to understand that he was one bad move away from a murder charge,” said Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz. “When you involve a knife in a physical altercation, it’s extremely dangerous.”

During the confrontation, Smith’s sister, Bryann Christopher, intervened, and was then struck on the top of her head by Wilks.

“Our community does not tolerate this type of activity,” Fitz said. “You need to respect other human beings, and a knife shows no respect for life.”

According to Wilks’ defense attorney, Paul Jancha, his actions were the account of his intoxication. Despite his age, Jancha said that his client has had significant issues with alcohol for years.

“I hope you learn from this incident that you must drink responsibly, but that can’t happen until you are 21,” Dodge said. “You shouldn’t be drinking at all. Carrying a knife makes it even worse.”

He was given 60 days credit for time already served.

Also sentenced Friday:

• Shane Russey, 42, of Three Rivers, to a minimum of two years in prison for the manufacturing and delivery of marijuana. Russey was arrested on Oct. 27 after police discovered he had 80 marijuana plants growing on his property while investigating larceny complaints. He admitted to officers at the scene that he had been selling and using the drug for some time. He pleaded guilty to the charges on Jan. 24.

•  Jeremiah Kinney, 38, of Cassopolis, to one year of probation for the manufacturing of marijuana. Kinney was arrested on Oct. 10 of 2011 after police discovered marijuana plants on his property. He entered into a delayed sentencing agreement with the prosecutor’s office, which rewarded his good behavior over the last few years by allowing him to plea to a misdemeanor charge rather than the felony he was originally charged with.

• Ronald Smith, 29, of Edwardsburg, to 18 months probation for carrying a concealed weapon. Smith was arrested on Jan. 5, after Edwardsburg police, while investigating a disturbance in Smith’s neighborhood, discovered he was carrying a concealed handgun without a permit. He pleaded guilty to the charges on Jan. 15.

• Gunnar Schar, 45, of Dowagiac, to three years probation for drug related charges. He was arrested on Oct. 31 after detectives with the Cass County Drug Enforcement Team conducted a search on his residence, discovering meth and marijuana as well as components for the manufacture of meth. He pleaded guilty to the charges on Jan. 31.

• Azure Russell, 36, of Marcellus, to 18 months probation for possession of meth. She was arrested on Oct. 27, after the county drug enforcement team searched her home and discovered that she was in possession of the substance. She pleaded guilty to the charges on Dec. 11.

• Denise Seabolt, 50, of Vandalia, to three years probation for meth-related charges. She was arrested on Dec. 5 after officers with the drug enforcement team discovered a meth lab in her home while executing a search warrant. She pleaded guilty to the charges on Dec. 19.

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