Prison for horse, dog killer

Published 12:54 pm Saturday, January 15, 2005

By By NORMA LERNER / Niles Daily Star
CASSOPOLIS - Sobbing with remorse and an apology to his wife and family did not keep 31-year-old Jason Yeomans of Cassopolis from going to prison Friday morning on his convictions of arson to a dwelling, animal cruelty and felony firearms last July in Cassopolis. He will serve at least five years up to a maximum of 22.
Cass County Circuit Court Judge Michael Dodge recounted it was July 14 after midnight last year at 57803 O'Keefe St. when the Cass County Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to the O'Keefe Street home regarding a house fire and animals shot. Dodge recounted that Yeomans was intoxicated and drinking beer while his home was engulfed in flames. The home was destroyed by fire, and there was the odor of an accelerant on Yeomans. There were burns on his hands, arms, neck and face with blood on his clothing, especially on his shoes.
Deputies found in the barn a horse that had been shot and lying dead with blood splattered everywhere. There was also found a Rottweiler dog that had been shot and was bleeding profusely from his snout. He was consequently euthanized by animal control officers.
Dodge also said a 410 shotgun was found behind the garage that had been used on the animals.
It was determined that Yeomans and his estranged wife were separated, and she had told him she did not love him and wanted a divorce. "He began drinking and went berserk," Dodge said. "Sadly, your life up to then was normal."
Dodge noted Yeomans graduated from Brandywine High School in Niles in 1992, and was honorably discharged from the military service. He told him his use of alcohol with a temper was his downfall. "How sadly alcohol can ruin a successful normal life," he said.
Dodge said Yoemans' sentencing guideline range of 36 months-to-20 years plus two consecutive years compelled a prison term unless he deviated from the guideline range. But with two firearm counts, Dodge said he had no choice since a two-year firearm conviction requires prison of two years. He said the 36 months on the arson charge could be deviated if there was a compelling reason. "The court does not find a compelling reason to deviate below the guideline range. I will sentence you at the low end of the guideline range based on things your family pointed out, no record and your military life," he said.
Defense Attorney James Tracey of Niles said Yeomans has been attending Alcoholics Anonymous every day since the incident and has sought counseling. He said he is a hard worker and works every day and is remorseful. Tracey said Yeomans' wife didn't want to make a comment. Tracey also said he is rehabilitated.
However, Chief Assistant Prosecutor Jason Ronning said there was no way to justify Yeomans' actions that took place. He took a firearm and shot her horse in the neck. Ronning said he went to the scene and saw where the horse had suffered and died, and there was blood all over the stall. He had been shot in the neck. He shot the dog in its face. It was not able to survive. He set fire to the house, he said. "It was a total loss. Alcohol was not an excuse," Ronning said.
Yeomans apologized while weeping to his wife and family. He said he wished he could change his actions. He said he will live the rest of his life with guilt and remorse. "I hope you have forgiveness in your heart," he said to his family and apologized to his mother-in-law for the embarrassment he caused to her.
He also expressed remorse to Dodge and said he has since "found my way of life. I hope you accept my heartfelt apology."
Yeomans received three-to-20 years for arson to a dwelling, two-to-four concurrent years each for animal killing/torturing two animals, two consecutive years for felony firearm and another two consecutive years for a second count of felony firearm but concurrent to the first felony firearm count, restitution of $8,930.50 and $360 in costs.
Also going to prison was Lamar Boykins, 22, of 531 Pearl Street Cassopolis, for larceny from a motor vehicle on Sept. 20 on Riverside Drive, Dowagiac. Boykins committed the crime while on parole from a prior conviction and received 18 months to five years consecutive to his prior conviction. He is to pay $120 in costs.
Duane Mount, 46, of 202 South St. Joseph Street, White Pigeon, received 48 months to 30 years for second-offense operating/maintaining a methamphetamine laboratory on August 24 at the Simmons Mobile Home Park on U.S. 12 in Union. He is to pay $570 in court costs and an attorney fee of $350.
Alan Pappas, 45, of 16165 Guyer Road, Union, received two-to-four years for assault with a dangerous weapon on July 17 when he hit his former girlfriend in the face with a shovel. He is to pay $570 in costs.[ok]