Former Dowagiac athlete sentenced for bringing pot brownies on school trip

CASSOPOLIS – A Cassopolis man on probation for 2016 meth and breaking and entering convictions has had his probation revoked. He is going to prison for violating his probation as well as on a new meth related conviction.

Ryan Ray Deweerd, 34, of Hilton Street in Cassopolis, was found guilty after a jury trial in late August of possession of methamphetamine as a habitual offender, and was sentenced Friday in Cass Circuit Court to two to 20 years in prison on that charge. He has credit for 156 days already served and must pay $1,548.

He was also sentenced to concurrent prison terms for the probation violations from the 2016 cases. He received a term of 78 months to 40 years in prison for operating a meth lab and a term of 46 months to 15 years for breaking and entering. He has credit for 1,347 days already served in those cases.

In the most recent case, Deweerd was found in possession of methamphetamine when Michigan Department of Corrections officers and members of the Cass County Drug Enforcement Team made a home visit to his residence in LaGrange Township. He also tested positive for meth after his arrest. That arrest violated terms from his 2016 probation cases.

“His criminal record speaks for itself,” said Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Hubbard. “He hasn’t been able to take advantage of the probation programs and continues to use and possess meth.”

Defense attorneys Robert Drake and Robert Steinhoff asked for leniency.

“Turning back to drugs is what drug addicts do,” Steinhoff said.

Drake asked for a year in the county jail, noting that Deweerd had been successful on probation up until his arrest on a new charge.

“When people get out, sometimes they stumble and relapse,” he said.

“You did complete the Twin County Probation Program and Swift & Sure,” Cass Circuit Judge Mark Herman told Deweerd. “What’s concerning to me that even with the tools provided you, three months later you were using meth even knowing you could get help.”

A Dowagiac man who brought marijuana-laced brownies on a school field trip in February 2017 will have the chance to keep a felony charge of possession with intent to deliver marijuana off his record.

Eric Walker, 20, of Hendryx Street in Dowagiac, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to deliver marijuana and was placed on 18 months’ probation under the 7411 statute, which allows the conviction not to be entered on his record if he is successful on probation. He has credit for two days in jail already served and must pay $2,288 in fines and costs.

The incident occurred Feb. 24, 2017 when Walker took marijuana-laced brownies on a school bus on a field trip. A teacher discovered the brownies and Walker was expelled from school. He had been an All-State football player and he lost a college scholarship as well as a chance to enlist in the Marine Corps.

“I know I messed up,” Walker said. “It’s put my life on hold.”

“You learned the hard way how a foolish teenage indiscretion can ruin your life,” Judge Herman said. “I think you’re trying to make something positive out of your life and I think the 7411 designation is appropriate.”

A Niles teen was sentenced to probation and jail for possession of marijuana and carrying a concealed weapon.

Caleb Hite Ringer, 17, of Huntly Road in Niles, pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana and carrying a concealed weapon and was sentenced to 18 months’ probation, 90 days in jail with credit for 37 days served, $1,288 in fines and costs and $470 in restitution for the weapon charge. He was given credit for time served and $300 in fines and costs on the marijuana charge.

The incident occurred July 31 at a residence on Wild Street in Howard Township. Ringer and two juveniles approached a man selling a car and robbed him at gunpoint. They ran away after the man chased them with a bat. Ringer was arrested after police traced a text message he sent the man.

Judge Herman noted that Ringer committed a home invasion in Berrien County just nine days after this incident. Ringer will be sentenced on the home invasion charge in Berrien County Trial Court on Nov. 19.

“This can’t be written off as a juvenile indiscretion,” Herman said. “You need to find a way to get your life back on track … You’ve gotten out of control the last few years.”

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