Jail imposed in ‘close call’

Published 7:32 pm Sunday, October 16, 2011

CASSOPOLIS — “Your case represents a close call,” Cass County Circuit Judge Michael E. Dodge told an Edwardsburg woman Friday morning before giving her a year in jail instead of sending her to prison.
Alesia Nicole Wilson, 27, of 27410 Redfield Road, Edwardsburg, pleaded guilty Sept. 12 to three controlled substance charges, operating and maintaining a meth lab, possessing methamphetamine and possessing analogues (Xanax).
In the alleged incident June 12 at 25259 70th St., Dowagiac, county Drug Enforcement Team detectives were dispatched when a friend died of an apparent drug overdose.
“I don’t want to go to prison,” said Wilson, who apologized for her dangerous involvement and for letting her children down.
Dodge said her actions were mitigated by her participation in the meth treatment program at the Cass County Jail and because she was gone overnight and not directly responsible for the death.
But with one prior felony and two misdemeanor convictions, “You are an addict,” Dodge told her.
He could have imposed a three- to five-year prison term instead of 365 days in jail, of which she has served 125.
In another Dowagiac case, Ricki Allen McNary, 28, of 211 Third Ave., pleaded guilty Sept. 12 to second-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC) with a 9-year-old girl and kidnapping on Oak Street in  2007-2008 when he was 24 and 25.
He was originally charged with first-degree CSC, punishable by at least 25 years in prison.
The girl’s grandmother read a letter from his victim and addressed the court.
The victim said McNary made her feel scared for three years and she looks forward to being a happy kid again.
The grandmother said it had been “traumatic” trying to react civilly about someone committing “barbaric acts” against her family by exploiting his authority.
The longer he went to prison, the safer children of the community will be, she said.
Chief Assistant Prosecutor Frank Machnik said the 23- to 40-year sentence would be appropriate, since it avoids “revictimizing” the child if she had to testify at trial before strangers.
McNary, credited with 122 days served, said he was sorry for what he had done.
He must register as a sex offender.
Glen Alan Edwards, 50, of 203 Center St., Dowagiac, pleaded guilty Sept. 6 to two controlled substance counts, operating and maintaining a meth lab (habitual criminal, second offense), possession of meth (habitual criminal, second offense) and marijuana possession.
Dodge gave Edwards 51 months to 30 years, with credit for 51 days served.
Edwards’ attorney, Lawrence Quigley, called it a tragic case because Edwards had been substance-free since a 2001 conviction, staying out of trouble for seven years until he relapsed.
His wife, crying in the courtroom, called police to save his life from addiction.
“I’m sorry,” Edwards said. “I am an addict and I admit that. I’ve been to prison twice and there is no treatment there. I would love to be back home with my family” and enroll in treatment court.
He cooperated with prosecutors.
A Dowagiac man who used his truck as a weapon driving on a sidewalk to frighten pedestrians also appeared on Dodge’s Oct. 14 docket.
Ryan Michael Holly, 22, of 50678 Magician Lake Road, pleaded guilty Sept. 6 to assault with a dangerous weapon (felonious assault) and reckless driving, for which Dodge imposed a 365-day jail sentence, with credit for 45 days served.
“It’s time for you to get things turned around,” the judge admonished the defendant, noting the “disturbing trend” of three felonies in six months.
Holly said his actions Sept. 1 were influenced by drinking. “I need (alcohol) treatment,” he said apologetically. “That’s not the person I am.”
Steven William Wellman, 46, of 605 W. 93rd Court, Crown Point, Ind., pleaded guilty Sept. 16 to drug-related offenses committed July 7 on Dutch Settlement Street, Dowagiac.
Dodge sentenced Wellman to two to 15 years in prison with credit for 100 days behind bars for two counts for creating and delivering an analogue (anabolic steroids), operating/maintaining a laboratory, two counts of delivering/manufacturing five-45 kilograms/20-200 plants of marijuana and maintaining a drug house.
Machnik indicated Wellman was “calling the shots” as the leader of a criminal enterprise while Wellman and his attorney, Greg Feldman, painted him as a “fall guy” because steroids were stored without his knowledge.
He has no previous felony record. He apologized to his family.
Dodge said Wellman possessed a medical marijuana card, but exceeded its limits.