Two Dowagiac men sentenced Friday in Cass County Court

CASSOPOLIS — Two Dowagiac area men were sentenced to probation in assault related cases Friday in Cass County Circuit Court.

Daniel Keith Stenberg, 35, of M-51 in Dowagiac, pleaded guilty to assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder and assault with a dangerous weapon and was sentenced to four years’ probation, 270 days jail with credit for 85 days served and $3,206 in fines and costs. He must get treatment and forfeit his firearm.

He was given a concurrent term of 85 days in jail with credit for 85 days served and $68 in fines and costs for interfering with electronic communications. He was ordered to pay $1,070 in restitution for injuries suffered by the victim.

The incident occurred June 18 at a home in Dowagiac. He went to the home to confront a woman who had a personal protective order against him. He pointed a gun at her and then assaulted her. He was later arrested after both he and she had called the police.

The woman, who had a concussion as well as scrapes and bruises, spoke before the sentencing.

“I don’t know if nine months is enough for him to understand the gravity of his attack,” she said. “I have the extra stress of not feeling safe in my own home.”

Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz spoke to Stenberg during sentencing.

“This is on you. You put this woman through something she never should have had to go through,” Fitz said. “This is no child’s play. Leave this victim alone.”

Stenberg apologized for his actions.

“I just want to reiterate the fact that I made a bad decision,” he said. “She should not have had to go through what she did. It was wrong, there’s no excuse for that.”

Also Friday, Sean Michael First, 43, of Dowagiac, pleaded guilty to attempted assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder and was sentenced to five years’ probation, 180 days in jail with credit for one day served and $2,758 in fines and costs. He must register as a sex offender. His jail term will be at the end of his probation and may be suspended.

The incident happened between 2015 and 2018 at a home in Dowagiac when he assaulted a young female.

The victim’s mother said that First’s actions have disturbed not only her daughter, but everyone in her family.

“He decided to do these drugs and touch my daughter and he has ultimately destroyed all of our lives,” she said. “It was mind blowing for all of us. I hope he gets the help he needs, and I hope he learns from what he’s done.”

“This case is just a terrible and tragic example of what happens when people use drugs,” Fitz said. “He has certainly earned incarceration. There needs to be a message that this type of activity is wrong. It’s not no harm, no foul just because it’s his first offense.”

Cass County Circuit Judge Mark Herman noted that this was First’s first involvement in the criminal justice system and that First indicated that he had been using cocaine and meth.

“You need to seek some serious help to address what happened in this matter,” he said. “If you violate, you will do serious time.”

In other cases:

Johnny Lee Williams, 61, of Gray Street in Dowagiac, pleaded guilty to possession of meth and was sentenced to three years’ probation, credit for 76 days served and $2,528 in fines and costs.

He also had his probation continued and given credit for 240 days already served from a 2019 probation violation case.

The current incident occurred May 27 when a search of his home found meth and a meth pipe. Judge Herman noted that this is his fifth felony conviction. “You need to be serious. Your next stop is prison if you don’t take this seriously,” he said. “Everyone wants to see you get your life back on track.”

April Lynn Groesser, 40, of Arbor Drive in Niles, pleaded guilty to delivery/manufacture of meth, conspiracy to delivery/manufacture of meth and possession of meth — all as a habitual offender and was sentenced to five years’ probation in the Swift and Sure Program and 120 days in jail that can be served at the Twin County Probation Center.

She has no credit for the 280 days she has been in jail because she is on parole. She must pay $2,984 in fines and costs.

The incident occurred April 24 near Three Rivers when she sold meth to an undercover police officer. Judge Herman noted that she had been trying to stay clean until she was approached by the undercover officer.

“It looks like you were trying to make progress,” he said. “You need to truly realize that if you let anyone else talk you into this, your next stop will be prison and it will be a substantial long time.”

Seth Ryan Evans, 37, of Constantine, pleaded guilty to possession of meth as a habitual offender and was sentenced to two to 10 years in prison with credit for 165 days already served. He must pay $1,548 in fines and costs.

He also pleaded guilty to breaking and entering a building, conspiracy to break and enter, possession of a dangerous weapon and assault with a dangerous weapon — all as a habitual offender and was sentenced to concurrent prison terms of two to 20 years and two to eight years in prison. He has credit for 146 days served and must pay $1,252 in fines and costs.

The first incident with meth occurred July 25, 2019, in Three Rivers. The second incident with the weapons and the breaking and entering occurred April 24, 2020, near Three Rivers.

Judge Herman noted that these were Evans’ 10th felony convictions, and he also has eight misdemeanor convictions.

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