Man with ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ personality jailed for ‘vicious’ attack in Niles

Published 10:02 am Tuesday, April 19, 2016

An Indiana man described as having a “Jekyll and Hyde” personality was sentenced to more than three years in prison for a vicious attack that included throwing liquid carpet cleaner in a woman’s face at a Niles apartment complex.

Michael James Cox

Michael James Cox

Michael James Cox, 33, of South Bend, was sentenced Monday in Berrien County Trial Court to a minimum of 40 months and a maximum of 10 years in the Michigan Department of Corrections on one count of assault by strangulation.

Assistant Prosecutor Jerry Vigansky said Cox displays a “Jekyll and Hyde” personality, presenting himself well at times and becoming extremely violent at others.

“I think he has a definite problem managing his anger… he is so violent he is throwing chemicals in someone’s face,” he said.

The events leading to Cox’s sentencing hearing began when the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department responded to a domestic violence complaint at an apartment on Woods Edge Drive in Niles on Nov. 24.

The victim told police that Cox had punched her in the face, choked her and threw liquid carpet cleaner in her eyes, according to court documents.

The victim locked herself in a bathroom and attempted to wash the cleaner from her eyes, the court document read, but Cox broke down the door and dragged her out.

Cox stopped an attempt by the victim’s daughter to call 911, but eventually fled after the victim was able to call police, according to court documents.

Prior to sentencing, Cox admitted that he has difficulty controlling his anger and wants to get help.

“It is something that has haunted me for quite some time,” he said. “I need to get a lid on it before something worse happens.”

Vigansky said Cox has attempted to call the victim 96 times since he’s been in jail despite being ordered by the court to not have any contact with her.

Berrien County Judge Angela Pasula, who administered the sentence, said Cox’s attempts to call the victim demonstrate his unwillingness to cooperate with court orders.

This was a really, really violent and vicious assault,” the judge said.

Also Monday:

• Herbert Lee McGraw II, 20, of Berrien Springs, was sentenced to 270 days in jail and three years probation on one count of attempted breaking and entering of a building with intent to commit larceny. The charge stems from a breaking and entering at Milano’s Pizza in Niles in October of last year, according to court documents.

• Dustin James Ritchie, 32, of Franklin, Tennessee, was sentenced to 150 days in jail and three years probation on one count of carrying a concealed weapon.

• Jason Eugene Visel, 42, of Niles, was sentenced to 200 days in jail on one count of resisting and obstructing police.

• Cameron Donovan Watson, 26, of Portage, Michigan, was sentenced to 16 months in prison on one count of fleeing and alluding a police officer.