Dowagiac man gets probation for domestic violence, witness tampering

Published 6:00 am Saturday, February 11, 2023

CASSOPOLIS —A Dowagiac man with a long criminal record was given a chance to change his life on probation. 

Peter Starrett, Sr., 42, of West Railroad Street in Dowagiac, pleaded guilty to third offense domestic violence and witness tampering/intimidation/interference and was placed on three years probation in Mental Health Court, given credit for 54 days in jail already served and ordered to complete the Twin County Probation program. He must pay a total of $3,326 in fines and costs. 

The domestic violence incident occurred Oct. 24, 2020 in Dowagiac and the witness intimidation incident occurred May 9, 2022, also in Dowagiac. 

Fitz said that Starrett’s attempt to intimidate the victim to not testify “strikes at the heart of the criminal justice system.” He asked for a prison sentence and said Starrett had long since forfeited his right to a rehabilitation program. 

Defense attorney Robert Drake disagreed. He said Starrett is a different person when he is on the proper medication for his mental health problems and is not self medicating.  He said Starrett has not been in trouble since being out on bond and is currently doing well in a rehabilitation program in Berrien County. 

Starrett apologized to the victim and to the court. He admitted that he had been self medicating and is not getting help for his alcohol and drug addictions. “I’m learning a lot in this program and I ask for the mercy of the court,” he said. “Just give me a chance.” 

Judge Herman noted that Starrett’s record goes back to when he was a juvenile and includes 17 felonies and 23 misdemeanors. “When you get mad, you assault others,” he said.  

“Maybe you finally got the answer that you have to want to change,” he added. “I couldn’t believe it that you actually walked into court without trying to excuse your way out. You said you wanted a rehab program and you arranged it without court intervention and you say you want to change.”