Five men sentenced in Cass County Court Friday

CASSOPOLIS – A Dowagiac man learned a lesson in civics and the rights of parolees when he was sentenced Friday in Cass County Circuit Court.

Travis Fletcher, 26, of Johnson Street in Dowagiac, was found guilty of resisting and obstructing police in late February and was sentenced Friday as a habitual offender to fines and costs of $1,548. He has served 327 days in jail but received no credit for them since he is on parole from a Berrien County conviction.

The current incident occurred June 17 in Dowagiac when he was confronted by a Dowagiac police officer who recognized him and knew there were outstanding warrants for his arrest. Fletcher loudly argued with the officer and resisted attempts to arrest him. The officer ended up tasing Fletcher in order to arrest him.

His parole is from a January 2016 conviction in Berrien County for breaking and entering a building with intent to commit larceny. He was released from prison in December 2016, and his parole supervision currently runs through July 11, 2020.

Friday, Fletcher said he knew he made a mistake.

“I probably should have listened to the officer, but I wanted to see what it felt like to exercise my rights,” he said.

Cass County Circuit Judge Mark Herman told Fletcher that the incident did not violate his rights.

“There seems to be a difference of opinion between you and the officers,” he said. “You feel you were wrongly convicted for exercising your rights. When you’re an absconder, you don’t have all the rights others do. The officer doesn’t have to have any other reason besides you being an absconder for him to stop you.

“When you’re on parole, you are subject to search 24 hours a day, you don’t possess the same rights as other citizens,” the judge added. “If you want the rights of a normal citizen, stay out of trouble and get off parole. … This is by itself an expensive lesson that you don’t stand in the same shoes as a citizen when you’re on parole.”

Another Dowagiac man was sentenced to probation for a drug charge.

William VanDyk, 38, of Oak Street in Dowagiac, pleaded no contest to delivery/manufacture of controlled substances and was sentenced to 18 months’ probation, credit for two days served and $2,148 in fines and costs.

The incident occurred April 22, 2019, when police stopped him in Dowagiac for not wearing a seatbelt. A search of him uncovered illegal pills.

“Something’s going on in his life,” said Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz. “He was convicted in 2016 for disturbing the peace, and now he has two convictions on his record. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop. He needs to get control of things in his life.”

A Union man who fired a gun in an argument with his wife and then tried to get her to not testify against him was sentenced to probation and jail.

Michael Perkins, 50, of Mason Street in Union, pleaded no contest to discharge of a firearm in a building, assault with a dangerous weapon and resisting police and was sentenced to 18 months’ probation, one year in jail with credit for 307 days served, $2,964 in fines and costs and $1,934.95 in restitution.

He was also sentenced to a concurrent year in jail with credit for 302 days served and $698 in fines and costs for bribing, intimidating and interfering in a criminal case.

The first incident occurred June 29 when he pulled a gun on his wife and then shot it into the floor. She fled and called police who had to use tear gas when he would not come out after a standoff. The intimidation charge occurred July 4 when he called his wife from the jail to get her to not testify.

“It’s very unfortunate that we’re here today,” Fitz said. “The bottom line is that really bad things happen when you mix alcohol and guns.”

“Obviously, you have a number of issues with alcohol and anger management,” Judge Herman said. “If you don’t change, do you really think someone would want to stay married to you?”

A Dowagiac man can keep a felony off his record if he successfully completes probation.

Zachary Hyatt, 27, of Michigan Avenue in Dowagiac, pleaded guilty to possession of analogues and malicious destruction of trees $200 to $1,000 and was sentenced to 18 months’ probation, credit for two days served, $2,438 in fines and costs and $2,000 restitution for the damage to the trees.

The incident occurred July 16, 2019. Police were first called to Wilbur Hill and Mathews near Dowagiac where they found a car had run off the road and damaged trees in an orchard. Police later found Hyatt in Dowagiac where he was found with prescription pills.

Judge Herman called Hyatt a good candidate for the special probation since this was his first convictions, he is employed and going to school and has a stable family.

A Cass County man originally sentenced in 2018 for sexually molesting two young children over a period of time was resentenced Friday.

Samuel Thieme, 29, was initially sentenced in 2018 to 30 to 60 years in prison for first-degree criminal sexual conduct. His sentence was vacated last fall by the Michigan Court of Appeals who sent it back for resentencing.

Judge Herman noted that the Court of Appeals did not disagree with his original sentence but primarily wanted a more detailed explanation for his reasons for departing from the minimum 25 year sentence. Herman outlined his reasons again and resentenced him to the same 30 to 60 year prison term.