Berrien Springs resident threatened girl, Niles man flees

NILES — A Berrien Springs man who assaulted a 16-year-old girl and threatened her with a weapon, according to court documents, is going to prison for the crime.

Oliver Waldron

Oliver Jesse Waldron pleaded guilty Nov. 28, 2018, to the felony offense of assault with a dangerous weapon. He was sentenced Monday morning by Judge Charles LaSata to serve a minimum of 16 to 48 months in prison. He was also ordered to pay $198 in fines and costs.

The crime occurred Nov. 17, 2018, in Berrien Township. Waldron was at the victim’s house and refused to leave when asked. According to court documents, he kicked the victim and threatened her with a knife.

Assistant prosecuting attorney Jane Wainwright said Waldron has a record for this behavior.

“[The] defendant has 32 misdemeanors and six felonies,” Wainwright said. “A lot of them are assaultive. The victim, in this case, was 16 years old.”

Waldron’s defense attorney Edwin Johnson said his client struggled with substance abuse but said Waldron has come to recognize that alcohol and other substances are “poison.” He suggested that his client receive treatment for the addiction in addition to his prison sentence.

“He’s not a bad man, just a weak man as far as substance abuse is concerned,” Johnson said.

When it was his turn to speak, Waldron said he had been getting mental health treatment while locked up and wanted to be a better person.

“It hurts knowing I have hurt those in the community that I care about,” Waldron said.  “I am sorry it has taken me this long to realize what my problem is.”

Jason Visel

However, LaSata said Waldron’s actions speak louder than words. He said Waldron had been in and out of the court’s jurisdiction for 34 years. He said Monday’s sentencing marked his 39th conviction.

“We have tried everything with you and you keep assaulting people,” LaSata said. “You can’t live among civilized people.”

Waldron has credit for 58 days served.

LaSata also sentenced 22-year-old Jason Eugene Jr. Visel, of Niles, to prison Monday.

Visel pleaded guilty June 28, 2018, to the felony offenses of resisting and obstructing an officer and violation of carrying a concealed weapon. LaSata ordered him to serve a minimum of 14 to a maximum of 24 months in a Michigan prison for the first charge. For the second charge, he was sentenced to a minimum of 16 to a maximum of 60 months. The sentences will be served concurrently but will be consecutive to punishment Visel may face due to a violation of his parole status.

The crime occurred Nov. 10, 2018, when police received a call that Visel had taken a family member’s car and absconded from parole, according to court documents. Police initiated a traffic stop, and Visel pulled over, but fled from police on foot, near Cass Street in Niles.

Johnson, who also represented Visel Monday, said his client was young enough to change and had grown up facing a troubled background.

“He has accepted that he has got to make some changes,” Johnson said. “What he ultimately wants to do is get himself back into school and be certified as an auto mechanic.”

For his part, Visel reiterated his desire to work as an auto mechanic.

“I will have to get out and try harder to not do the same things I have been doing,” Visel said.

LaSata said he recalled sentencing Visel’s father five or six years ago for a meth-related charge.

“I’m aware of the obstacles that you have had,” LaSata said. “You still committed a crime, but you have to work harder than most. You have some significant headwinds coming at you.”

Visel has zero credit for time served, due to his parole status. The .40 caliber high point gun that Visel had illegally in his possession was forfeited to Michigan State Police. 

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