Dowagiac man given prison for fleeing on tether

Published 8:18 am Monday, May 18, 2015

A Dowagiac man’s flight while under electronic supervision has resulted in him receiving another stay a Michigan prison cell.


Eric Brigham

Judge Michael Dodge sentenced 35-year-old Eric Carnell Brigham to a minimum term of two years in prison, with a maximum term of 15 years, Friday morning during the Dowagiac’s man sentencing hearing inside the Cass County Law and Courts Building in Cassopolis. Brigham was sentenced on a single charge of tampering with an electronic monitoring device, which he had pleaded guilty to on April 10.

Brigham was charged with the crime following a several-month episode that began following his parole from prison back on Oct. 7 of last year; Brigham had been serving time for a conviction of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder. As a condition of his release, he was placed on electronic monitoring by the Michigan Department of Corrections, and given a GPS tether device he was to wear at all times.

“Just one month after you were placed on this tether, on Nov. 6, you cut the tether bracelet and absconded from parole supervision,” Dodge said.

A few weeks later, on Dec. 18, Brigham found himself back in police custody, this time in Berrien County on a charge of entering without breaking. Brigham was convicted and sentenced on Jan. 16 to serve 120 days in jail. Following his release, the man was sent back to Cass County as punishment for the device tampering.

Charged as a frequent offender, Brigham has an extensive prior felony record, with 11 convictions that include breaking and entering, criminal sexual conduct, assault with a deadly weapon, uttering and publishing, and malicious destruction of property. He also has a reoccurring behavior of fleeing from police supervision, absconding from three parole terms and one parole term.

“His record is bad, his decisions have been bad and his impact on the community has been bad,” said Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz.

Brigham’s defense lawyer, Daniel French, argued that his client’s erratic behavior was the result of the side effects from taking multiple medications for reoccurring headaches. Brigham has complained that such issues stem from a head injury sustained from his years of boxing, French said.

“When I first met Mr. Brigham, he was rather unorganized and sort of impulsive,” French said. “He was very different in demeanor than what we see today.”

While the judge acknowledged that the medication may have influenced the defendant’s actions, Dodge said that the Dowagiac man deserved a prison sentence based on his habitual offender status.

“This is serious,” Dodge said. “You violated parole, and you cut the tether, for whatever reason.”