Second Niles defendant in Dowagiac robbery, shooting sentenced; one still at large

Published 8:54 am Saturday, March 20, 2004

By By MARCIA STEFFENS / Niles Daily Star
CASSOPOLIS -- The second defendant in the robbery and shooting at the Cottage Tavern Inn on Aug. 14, 2003, was sentenced Friday in Cass County Circuit Court.
Herbert Michael Ford, 33, 523 N. 6th St., Niles, had his sentenced capped at 12 years in a sentence bargain accepted by Judge Michael E. Dodge.
The deviation below the guidelines for this habitual offender fourth was due to his cooperation with the police.
Ford, who had a knife, was with two others who were intending on robbery that evening at the tavern. Ford was only interested in the cocaine he knew they had. He was inside and outside the building and said he did not see Christopher Brinkley shoot two patrons. Matthew Kiggins and Jeff Collett were both seriously injured with fractures when they attempted to stop the robbery.
Derrick Deals, who hit the patrons with a baseball bat, remains at large.
Ford was sentenced to the Michigan Department of Corrections for 12 years to 25 years, with credit for 191 days on each of three counts, one of conspiracy to commit armed robbery and two counts of assault with intent to rob while armed. He is to pay three $60 court assessments, $60 Crime Victims' Fund and along with the other two is responsible for nearly $60,000 in medical bills of the victims. The sentences are to be served concurrently, along with a sentence from Berrien County.
Though the victims did not appear in court for the sentencing, as they did for Brinkley's, Jason Ronning, chief assistant prosecuting attorney told the judge "there is no doubt of the seriousness of their injuries."
In other sentencings:
For attempting to file a false report of a felony, Reid was sentenced to probation with a 30 day jail sentence suspended for six months.
He is to pay $180 in probation fees, $350 attorney fees, $450 court costs, $60 court assessment and $60 to the Crime Victims' Fund.
He also switched attorneys from Dale Blunier to James Miller.
Though he had a clean slate, he admitted to the use of various drugs.
He was sentenced to two years probation with his 90 days in the Cass County Jail suspended for one year.
He is to pay $960 in probation fees, $60 court assessment, and to the $60 Crime Victims' Fund.