Niles assault sends man to prison

Published 2:43 pm Monday, November 22, 2021

NILES – Two area residents were sentenced to prison Monday in Berrien County Trial Court.

Jason Michael Kerns, 45, is returning to prison after pleading guilty to attempted assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder. He was sentenced Monday to 18 months to five years in prison. He has credit for 59 days already served and must pay $258 in fines and costs.

The incident occurred Sept. 24 in Niles.

Kerns also had his probation revoked and was given credit for time served for violating his probation from a conviction earlier this year for use of meth. He violated his probation in the meth case by possessing contraband in the county jail earlier this fall. He received a six-month jail sentence on that charge.

The victim in the current case spoke before the sentencing. She said she thought Kerns would benefit from being placed in a substance abuse treatment program.

Defense attorney Carri Briseno noted that Kerns has spent more than 18 years in prison and began using drugs while in prison.

“He did not do well on probation, but he has significant issues that can be addressed without a prison sentence,” she said.

Berrien County Trial Judge Sterling Schrock said it was difficult to sort out what is believable and what’s not in this case.

“You’ve been sitting in jail for 59 days figuring out what to say,” he said. “You say you can find a Michigan address but you couldn’t do that while you were out on probation. Instead, you brought contraband into the jail.”

“You absconded instead of going to your probation agent earlier this year and then you committed a felony assault,” he added. “You can’t attribute that to drug abuse. The behavior consistent with that is using drugs, not assault.”

In the other prison sentencing, Nicholas James Schrader, 29, pleaded guilty to resisting and obstructing police and was sentenced to 14 months to two years in prison with credit for no time served as he was on parole at the time of the incident. He must pay $198 in fines and costs.  The sentence will be consecutive to any parole violation sanction.

He was sentenced to credit for 105 days served for use of heroin.

The incident occurred Aug. 10 when he was arrested by members of the Southwest Michigan Drug Enforcement Team. Defense attorney Scott Sanford said Schrader was a parole absconder and hiding from police when they entered the home he was staying in.

He has been on parole since Aug. 27, 2020, when he was released from prison after serving time for delivery/manufacture of meth.

Judge Schrock noted that Schrader absconded from parole seven times since he got out of prison in August 2020.

“You stopped reporting seven times and had 37 violations from then to now,” he said.

The judge noted that he found sufficient reason to depart from the guidelines which did not call for a prison term. “The Michigan legislature considers resisting and obstructing police to be a violent felony and you committed this violent felony while absconding,” he said. “You’re not capable of being properly supervised.”

In other sentencings:

  • Westley Paul Allen Gollon, 19, of Buchanan, pleaded guilty to possession of heroin and was sentenced to credit for 18 days served and $958 in fines and costs.

That incident occurred July 24 in Berrien Springs.

Gollon was also sentenced for a probation violation from a July 12 sentence for fleeing and eluding police. His sentence of two years’ probation was extended for another six months and he was given a jail term of 60 days with credit for 18 days served. He can serve the rest of his jail term in the Twin County Probation Program.

  • Omar Matyas pleaded guilty to illegal entry and resisting and obstructing police and was sentenced to credit for 63 days served and $258 in fines and costs. The incident occurred Sept. 21 when he entered a home he had previously stayed at.
  • Jeremy William Modlin, 25, pleaded guilty to resisting and obstructing police and was sentenced to credit for 67 days already served and $198 in fines and costs. The incident occurred Sept. 17. He also had his probation extended one year from an earlier 2020 conviction for uttering and publishing. He was ordered to serve 180 days in jail with credit for 67 days and can serve it in the Tri-Cap program.
  • Scott Joe Tjaden pleaded guilty to third-offense drunk driving and was sentenced to three years’ probation, 30 days in jail with credit for four days served and $1,855.67 in fines, costs and restitution. The incident occurred June 11 in Niles. His blood-alcohol level was .386.
  • Tyler Bryant Umbarger, 34, pleaded guilty to possession of heroin and was sentenced to two years’ probation, 120 days in jail with credit for 69 days served and $258 in fines and costs. He can serve the rest of the jail term in the Twin County Probation Program. The incident occurred March 9.