Man gets probation, jail time for drunk driving

CASSOPOLIS — An Elkhart man who drove drunk and caused a serious accident in Edwardsburg earlier this year was sentenced Friday in Cass County Circuit Court.

William Reynold York, 32, of Laurel Street in Elkhart, pleaded no contest to operating while intoxicated causing injury and was sentenced to three years’ probation, 270 days in jail, $1,618 in fines and costs and $758.60 in restitution. The last 240 days of his jail sentence can be spent on tether.

The incident occurred March 18 on U.S. 12 in Milton Township when York was driving drunk after a St. Patrick’s Day party. He caused an accident that seriously injured two women. His blood alcohol content was measured to be .257, more than three times the legal limit.

The mother of one of the women injured spoke before the sentencing, reading a letter her 19-year-old daughter wrote. The daughter noted that “a huge portion of [her] life has been altered.” She said she suffered a head trauma, has loss of memory, has trouble focusing and has post-traumatic stress disorder.

“This is a very sad case. I can hear it in the parents’ voice,” Prosecutor Victor Fitz said. “This 19-year-old girl is resilient and I’m confident that she will recover. She is in college and wants to work with kids.”

Fitz noted that cars can be death machines if not used properly. He said he was glad that York acknowledges his actions and regrets driving drunk.

“His guilt and sorrow have not diminished one bit since that night,” defense attorney Tim Dowling said.

For his part, York acknowledged that he had put his family through so much and can only imagine with the injured women and their families are going through.

“I’m sorry. This should never have happened,” he said.

Circuit Judge Mark Herman said the incident appears to be out of character for York, but warned him that he could end up going to prison if he violates his probation by drinking and driving again.

In other sentencings:

Also Friday, a Union man with a 40-year criminal history was sentenced to jail for possession of methamphetamine.

Stanley Douglas McNight, 64, of Union, pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine and was sentenced to 365 days in jail with credit for 63 days already served. He must pay $698 in fines and costs.

The incident occurred Aug. 10 when police found him sleeping in the back of his truck and in possession of meth.

In another drug offense, Paris Antonio Garcia, 18, of McOmber Street in Dowagiac, pleaded guilty to possession of meth as a habitual offender and was sentenced to 365 days in jail with credit for 115 days served. He must pay $1,548 in fines and costs.

He also had his probation revoked from a 2016 larceny of a firearm and carrying a concealed weapon case and was sentenced to a concurrent 365 days in jail with credit for 151 days already served.

The most recent incident occurred June 19 on S. Front Street in Dowagiac. Garcia ran from police and later was apprehended on East High Street. Although just 18 years old, he already has a record of four felony and one misdemeanor convictions.

“We’ve tried to get you to change your behavior and I’m still not ready to give up hope,” Herman said. “But if you don’t change your ways, we will have to send you to prison. … You need to make some changes. You have a long life ahead of you. The choice is up to you, good or bad.”

A Dowagiac woman who ran another woman off the road who owed her $80 for drugs was sentenced to probation and tether.

Brittney Maria Smith, 26, of E. Telegraph in Dowagiac, pleaded no contest to assault with a dangerous weapon (car) and possession of marijuana, and was sentenced to two years of probation, 180 days of tether and $1,798 in fines and costs.

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