Dowagiac beer thief’s sent to prison

Published 11:31 pm Monday, October 10, 2011

CASSOPOLIS — A Dowagiac man will spend the next four years in prison over some stolen beer and pocket change.

Annise Nickens, who broke into his friend’s home, drank some of his beer and stole some change out of a jar last year, was sentenced to four to 20 years in prison Friday in Cass County Circuit Court. He will receive credit for 153 days already served.

It was Nickens’ lengthy criminal history that earned him the prison term.

Prosecutor Victor Fitz said Nickens, 37, has been “a criminal for most of his life.”

Nickens has nine felonies and five misdemeanors on his criminal record.

“He’s been just a continuing crime wave,” Fitz said.

During his comments, Nickens delivered a lengthy speech, in which he apologized, reflected on his past and expressed regret over losing his friend.

“I apologize to Mr. (Willie) Lewis (victim), who has been my friend since first grade,” Nickens said. “I betrayed his trust and destroyed a friendship we built over 30 years.”

Nickens also explained that his mother died and cousin was murdered within a two-day period, which he said affected his decision-making.

“But my circumstances don’t justify my actions,” he said.