Niles man sentenced for evidence tampering, obstruction

NILES — A Niles man is heading to prison following obstruction and tampering cases in Berrien County.

Damon Goines, 46, was sentenced to two to four years in prison for tampering with evidence and 12 to 24 months in prison on two counts of resisting and obstructing a police officer Monday by Berrien County Trial Court Judge Sterling R. Schrock.

Goines received credit for 63 days served and was ordered to pay $198 in fines and costs. He also was sentenced on three counts of contempt of court and one count of use of methamphetamine and received credit for 63 days served for those sentences.

According to Shrock, Goines overcame two deputy officers to retrieve and swallow two small bags of methamphetamine that had been removed from his person by the officers.

“I would like to apologize to the courts and all parties involved in my charges before this court,” Goines said in a statement. “I, at the time, did not realize how much danger I put myself in, as well as the officers involved. I was high and not thinking clearly, and for that, I am remorseful.”

Goines served three years in prison for attempted assault by strangulation in 2016, three years for resisting and obstructing a police officer in 2008 and three years for discharging a firearm toward a building in 1993.

“There are behaviors here which are not, in my estimation, entirely describable to drug-related behavior,” Shrock said. “There are other choices that have been made. Yes, he was high, but not everybody high behaves in a way that the defendant did.”

In another sentencing, a 19-year-old Niles teen pled guilty to attempted third-degree criminal sexual conduct against a victim aged 13 to 16 and was sentenced to three years’ probation. The teen will be placed on Michigan Department of Corrections tether for 120 days and must pay $958 in fees and costs.

In Michigan, third-degree criminal sexual conduct is a felony offense that carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. conduct involves sexual activity with minors over age 13 or people with disabilities.

With the guilty plea, the teen was granted Michigan’s Holmes Youthful Trainee Act status. HYTA gives a young offender, ages 17 to 23, a chance to keep a criminal offense, including felonies, off his or her record.

“You can’t have contact with people under the age of 17,” Shrock said. “You can’t go to a public swimming pool. You have to do sex offender treatment. Hopefully all that stuff gets your head right.”

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