Niles man sentenced in 2019 shooting incident

CASSOPOLIS – A Niles man who shot his gun out of the windows of a car last year was sentenced Friday in Cass County Circuit Court to a year in jail.

Jerry Owens III, 27, of Niles, pleaded guilty to two counts of discharge of a firearm from a vehicle and carrying a concealed weapon-all as a habitual offender and was sentenced to one year in jail with credit for 122 days already served. He must pay $1,684 in fines and costs.

He was also sentenced to 90 days already served and $300 for reckless discharge of a firearm from a vehicle. All the jail terms are concurrent. Two counts of felony firearms were dismissed.

Owens was out on bond at the time of Friday’s sentencing and ordered to turn himself in to the Cass County Jail by 2 p.m. Friday.

The incident occurred April 6, 2019, when police received a call of shots being fired from a car in Howard Township. They found a gun inside the car in which Owens was a passenger when they stopped the car.

“This was very foolish and reckless,” said Cass County Circuit Judge Mark Herman. “You’re 27 years old and old enough to know better. This could have had some dire consequences with someone seriously hurt or killed. I think you’re aware of that now.”

Defense attorney Robert Drake said Owens knows he made a bad choice in firing a gun during that incident. For his part, Owens apologized for his actions and said he wanted to move on with his life.

Judge Herman noted that Owens’ sentencing guidelines could have justified a short prison sentence, but that a plea agreement between the defense and prosecution limited Owens’ jail time to one year.

In another case involving the use of a weapon, a Dowagiac man was sentenced to probation and jail.

Gary Cox, 21, of Dowagiac, pleaded guilty to felonious assault and was sentenced to 18 months’ probation, 90 days in jail with credit for four days served and $2,648 in fines and costs. He must also forfeit his weapon.

The incident occurred Dec. 28, 2019, when police received a report of someone pointing a gun at another vehicle on Pokagon Highway. Cox was stopped on M-51 and arrested.

Judge Herman noted that Cox said he pointed the gun when the driver of another car flipped him off and tried to drive him off the road.

“You’re 21 years old. You have a young child, and you need to change your ways,” he said.

The judge called it concerning that Cox’s gun wasn’t registered and that he was “less than candid” in saying where he got the gun.

“He stepped up and accepted responsibility for his momentary lack of good judgment,” said defense attorney Jim Miller.

In other sentencings:

  • A Dowagiac man found in possession of nearly 50 grams of marijuana was sentenced to fines and costs.

Wayne Edwards, 63, of Cherry Street in Dowagiac, pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana as a habitual offender and was given credit for two days served and ordered to pay $2,048 in fines and costs. His license was suspended for one year.

The incident occurred nearly three years ago on Oct. 5, 2017, when police searched Edwards’ home in Dowagiac and found baggies of marijuana and other items.

“You’re 63 years old and had no other involvement with the court system for the last three years,” the judge said. “The department of corrections is recommending fines and costs and credit for time served. Also, since then the state has legalized the use and possession of marijuana although the selling of marijuana to others is still illegal.”

“You’ve used marijuana almost daily for 40 years and I doubt you intent to stop,” the judge added. “But if you’re involved in any selling or distribution of marijuana, you’ll end up back in court.”

  • A Dowagiac man will have another chance to successfully complete his probation.

Griffin Liska, 21, of Middle Crossing Road in Dowagiac, pleaded guilty to violating his probation from earlier this year and was sentenced to have his probation continued, 20 days in jail with credit for five days served and ordered to complete the Twin County Probation program.

Liska was sentenced in March to probation for unlawful driving away of an automobile and absconded.

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