Four men sentenced to prison Monday in Berrien County Court

NILES – Prison sentences were handed down to four defendants Monday in Berrien County Trial Court. As has been the case since the start of the pandemic, most of the defendants appeared via Zoom.

Devonte Gibson, 19, of Niles, pleaded guilty to armed robbery and was sentenced to nine years to 30 years in prison. He has credit for 169 days already served and must pay $258 in fines and costs.

The incident occurred Sept. 27, 2020, on Chicago Road in Niles. Gibson’s co-defendant, David Daily, Jr., received a similar sentence last week.

Defense attorney Scott Sanford noted that this was Gibson’s first adult felony conviction.

“I don’t know what was on his mind on this occasion,” he said. “I ask for a sentence at the low end of the guidelines or for you to consider a departure below the guidelines.”

Berrien County Trial Judge Sterling Schrock noted that he also departed below the guidelines when he sentenced Daily last week.

“The guidelines are advisory and under the status of the current law, the language for departing from the guidelines has been changed to be reasonable rather that substantial or compelling,” he said.  “It’s more important to me to be proportionate with a co-defendant.”

In another armed robbery case, Kevontae Day was sentenced for an October 2018 incident in Buchanan.

Day, 23, of Benton Harbor, pleaded guilty to armed robbery and was sentenced to seven years to 30 years in prison. He has credit for 325 days already served. And was ordered to pay $198 in fines and costs and $1,028 in restitution to the Pit Stop convenience store.

“I really want to first apologize to the victim,” Day said before the sentencing. “I didn’t have any intention of harming her or anyone else. I was in the process of being evicted out of my home and I made a decision that ruined my life. I really want to use this time to get right with God and get my life back on track.”

In other sentencings:

  • Calvin Haff, 34, of Niles, pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamines and second offense domestic violence and was sentenced to 12 months to 120 months in prison on the meth charge and credit for 45 days served on the domestic violence charge.

He has credit for no time served in the meth case as he was on parole at the time of the incident. He must pay $198 in fines and costs in that case. The new prison sentence will be consecutive to whatever he has to serve from violating his parole from a July 2018 sentence for assault with a dangerous weapon.

Sanford said Haff has mental health issues including suicidal thoughts and asked Schrock to consider jail rather than prison.

Haff said his fiancée just gave birth to his daughter last week and called it one of the hardest things in his life to not be there.

“The hardest part is not being there for the people who need me,” he said. “I’ve also left my other children alone due to my selfishness. I can hardly live with myself for it. I apologize to my family and everyone here.”

“You were on parole for assault with a dangerous weapon with no mental health diagnosis,” Judge Schrock said. “There were some concerns but no diagnosis. I hope you mean what you said about getting help but you will have to do it on your own. Given you history, you leave the court no choice but to send you back to prison.”

  • Anthony Darnell Haynes, 25, of Berrien Springs, pleaded guilty to carrying a concealed weapon in two cases and was sentenced to concurrent prison terms of 14 months to 60 months. He has credit for 64 days already served and must pay $266 in fines and costs.

The incidents occurred Aug. 30 and Jan. 14, both in the Niles area.

Assistant Prosecutor Jerry Vigansky noted that Haynes was arrested the first time for carrying a concealed weapon last August just a short time after being paroled. He said that putting Haynes on probation would be setting him up for failure.

Sanford disagreed, he said Haynes was carrying a weapon for self-protection.

“He has been the victim of aggressive actions against him and has been shot at,” he said. “There’s no allegation he threatened anyone or that he had it in his hand. He had it for self-protection, he would benefit from probation.”

Haynes said he regretted his action.

“I ask you to give me another chance to be there for my daughters and correct my actions,” he said. “I learned my lesson about guns. Give me a chance to right my wrong.”

Schrock said he would typically give a defendant the benefit of a non-prison sentence but noted that Haynes had been to prison twice before. He added that Haynes was on out on bond from the August incident when he was caught again with a weapon.

“I don’t know if it’s true that you were concerned for your safety but this is not the way to go about it,” he said.

  • A South Bend man who owes more than $11,000 in restitution was sentenced to probation.

Rahgelin Hardy, 20, of South Bend, pleaded guilty to retaining or stealing a financial transaction device without consent and breaking and entering a vehicle to steal property under $200 and was sentenced to three years’ probation, 60 days in jail with credit for 14 days served and $12,592.04 in fines, costs and restitution.

The incident occurred June 15, 2019, at Jay’s Lounge in Niles Township.

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