Cass Prosecutor Victor Fitz picks Ronning as chief assistant

By By JOHN EBY / Niles Daily Star
CASSOPOLIS -- Cass County Prosecuting Attorney Victor A. Fitz's new right-hand man, Jason Ronning, has his in a cast thanks to a hockey injury.
Ronning, 26, of Grand Rapids, begins his duties here Monday, Jan. 12. After he and Tara, his wife of three years, were formally introduced by Fitz Thursday afternoon in the Circuit Courtroom, the couple planned to spend some time house hunting.
Ronning impressed Fitz during their adversarial encounter in that same chamber "as a man of integrity, a hard worker, a professional in his dealings with others and, importantly, an effective advocate in the courtroom" while defending Ahmed Williams-El.
Williams-El, 22, of Vandalia, killed Damon Burroughs, 37, of Union, by shooting him six times during a drug robbery on North Street south of Cassopolis on Oct. 25, 2002.
Circuit Judge Michael E. Dodge imposed the mandatory life in prison sentence Dec. 19, 2003. Williams-El was convicted in November of first-degree felony murder following a two-week jury trial.
Dodge appointed Fitz to succeed Scott Teter, who joined Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox's staff.
Fitz's first day as prosecutor was May 19, 2003.
One goal Fitz set for his office "was to insure that felons who commit crime in our county receive a strong message that they will be held accountable and justice will be done.
Fitz set another goal to establish a strong working relationship with law enforcement.
Through regular meetings and interaction, "that is occurring," he said.
Training sessions on search and seizure, warrant requests and new drunk driving laws "have proven beneficial to both prosecutors and police."
Ronning graduated from Michigan State University in 1999 with a criminal justice degree.
Ronning attended the University of Miami School of Law on a dean's scholarship, earning certification by the Florida Supreme Court in its litigation skills program.
In addition to several clerkships, including the 11th Circuit Court for Florida, Ronning has also served as a litigation attorney since August 2002 for the Kalamazoo law firm of Hettinger and Hettinger.
He is a regular visitor to courts throughout west Michigan, including numerous felony jury trials.
He has practiced in Kalamazoo, Calhoun, St. Joseph, Cass, Berrien, Barry, Kent, Wexford, Livingston, Allegan and Van Buren counties.
In addition to criminal work, he has also handled family law and civil litigation.
Fitz said he was close to hiring Ronning when he learned of his connection to Muskegon, where the prosecutor worked before coming to Cass County.
The Ronnings attended high school at Reeths-Puffer, where 6-foot-5 Jason started on the basketball team.
Tara's grandparents lived in LaGrange, Ind., for several years and she has two brothers who reside in Warsaw, Ind. She was born in New Salisbury in southern Indiana, near Louisville, Ky.

Berrien County

Edgewater Bank, UFCU announce acquisition

Dowagiac

ACTION Ministries partners with SpartanNash for retail scan campaign

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Union High School closes for three days due to COVID-19

Cassopolis

Resolution to ask Cassopolis Board of Education member to resign fails

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Rotary donates to Rotary Villa Apartments’ trunk or treat efforts

Cass County

Accessory to 2019 Cass County Courts bomb threat sentenced to prison

Buchanan

Local DAR chapter donates to second-grade classroom

Buchanan

Buchanan event inviting community to partake in traditional practice of peace, hope

Cass County

Cass County law enforcement agencies host Halloween with a Cop event

News

Niles City Clerk offers voting advice

Dowagiac

Dowagiac residents finding creative ways to have fun, safe Halloween

Dowagiac

Dowagiac restaurant manager fired following criminal sexual conduct arrest

Berrien County

MDHHS extends emergency orders

Cassopolis

Cassopolis opens new municipal complex

Edwardsburg

Duo Form donates face shields to Edwardsburg Fire Department

Edwardsburg

PHOTO STORY: Community celebrates Edwardsburg firefighter with parade

Berrien County

Berrien County health professionals warn residents to remain vigilant

News

South Bend Police Department seeking information regarding missing Niles man

Cass County

DASAS welcomes new executive director

Business

Cass County businesses struggle amid increase in COVID-19 cases

News

MDHHS adds testing requirements for homes for the aged, large adult foster care facilities

Berrien County

Two injured at Old U.S. 31 and Ullery

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Berrien County reports additional COVID-19 death

Dowagiac

Dowagiac restaurateur arrested on criminal sexual conduct charges