Man with ‘shocking’ record gets prison time

Despite his young age, an Edwardsburg’s man extensive criminal record has helped land him with a stint in a Michigan prison facility.

Blake Daniel McNeil

Blake Daniel McNeil

Judge Michael Dodge sentenced 21-year-old Blake Daniel McNeil to a minimum of 18 months with a maximum of 30 years in prison during his sentencing hearing Friday morning in Cass County court, for charges of possession of methamphetamine and a charge of possession of firearms by a felon. McNeil pleaded guilty to both counts during an appearance in court Jan. 4.

McNeil was arrested for the crimes on Dec. 10, after detectives with the Cass County Drug Enforcement Team accompanied parole officers with the Michigan Department of Corrections on a home visit to McNeil’s residence, located on U.S. Highway 12. During the search, police discovered the Edwardsburg man was in possession of some methamphetamine as well as an automatic Ruger 9 millimeter pistol, something he is not allowed to own due to his past felony conviction, Dodge said.

McNeil’s numerous prior encounters with law enforcement resulted in him scoring 150 points in his past record score on his sentence recommendation report — more than double the amount to reach the highest level, Dodge said.

“At age 21, to have racked up that kind of record and that many points is sad and quite frankly is a little shocking,” Dodge said.

The man’s 18-month prison sentence comes as a result of a plea deal cut between the prosecutor’s office and McNeil, Dodge said.

Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz, in his remarks to the court, also mentioned McNeil’s prior record, along with his possession of a firearm at the time of his arrest, asked that the defendant be sentenced to prison, Fitz said.

“It’s no joy that I say that for a young man at age 21, but he’s got himself in and he’s got himself in deep,” Fitz said.

McNeil’s attorney, Gregory Feldman, said that his client accepts responsibility for his actions and the consequences that follow them, and will be committed to reforming his behavior after his release — in part because of his past record will ensure that any further criminal actions will most likely result in a return to prison.

“He’s got to learn to lead that right path when he gets out, and I’m hopeful that he can change while he is in prison,” Feldman said. “He’s decided that he wants to be a different person, and that he wants to turn his life around — and hopefully he does.”

The defendant declined to comment on his own behalf when asked by Judge Dodge.

McNeil was not given credit for time already served, due to the fact his sentence is mandatorily consecutive to parole.

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