Former Dowagiac resident gets jail time for stealing vehicle from dealership

Published 8:00 am Saturday, July 1, 2023

CASSOPOLIS — A former Dowagiac resident who never brought back a car he was test driving last July was sentenced to a year in jail Friday in Cass County Circuit Court.

        Kyle Christopher Stahl, 39, of Osceola, pleaded guilty to attempted receiving, concealing stolen property-a motor vehicle and was sentenced to 365 days in jail with credit for 166 days served. He must pay $1,548 in fines and costs.

        The incident occurred nearly a year ago on July 16, 2022 when police stopped Stahl in Edwardsburg. He had taken the car on a test drive from Heartland Motors in Dowagiac two days earlier before. Police found tools, a scale and a bag with meth residue in a search of the car.

Since then, he failed to appear once for sentencing and has amassed new charges in Berrien County as well as St. Joseph and Marshall Counties in Indiana. Those charges are for breaking and entering, possession of meth and theft.

Stahl told Cass County Circuit Judge Mark Herman that he wants to put the situation behind him and plans to get help for his drug addiction after he takes care of his other outstanding charges.

“You said you never intended to steal the car,” Judge Herman said. “I’ve test driven a lot of vehicles in my day, I’ve never known a dealership to tell you bring back a car whenever you decide to. I’ll tell you that if don’t return it on same day, for future reference, that’s considered auto theft.”

“You said in you were in communication with the dealership the whole time, to me that’s just plain BS,” the judge added. “You say you want to get this behind you. To me, the first thing you have to do is admit the truth. Second, if you really meant that, you wouldn’t have failed to appear for sentencing and would not have committed new crimes.

“You say you want to get this behind you but then you keep doing things in front of you,” the judge said. “If you want to get this behind you, you have to stop doing things in front of you. You’re 39 years old and you’ve already spent five and a half years in prison, you were using meth daily for eight years.”

“The first thing you have to get behind you is meth,” he added. “Meth is not your friend. Otherwise, you will be sitting in front of judge after judge.”

“Talk is cheap, you can easily say you want to put this behind you but you’re not showing it. I think you’re telling me what you think I want to hear. What I want to hear is that you’re not committing new crimes. Part of my job is to protect the community, I think six months in jail is a little on the short end.”

The judge reminded Stahl that he needed to appreciate that there were consequences for failing to appear for his original sentencing date.