Dowagiac man given time served for gun possession

Published 5:00 am Sunday, July 2, 2023

CASSOPOLIS — A Dowagiac man convicted in 2021 for being a felon in possession of a firearm was re-sentenced to time served. The case had been remanded back to the county after a Court of Appeals ruling.

Michael Anthony Smith, 29, of Vineyard Place in Dowagiac, pleaded no contest to being a felon in possession of a firearm and had three other charges dismissed as part of a new plea agreement. He was sentenced to credit for 707 days served.

Smith had been convicted by a jury in 2021 of possession of a weapon by a felon and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. He had been sentenced to one to five years in prison on the weapon possession charge and a consecutive two year term on the felony firearm charge.

The incident occurred Jan. 6, 2021 when he got in an argument with his girlfriend in a parking lot on Amerihost Drive in Dowagiac.

Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz said Smith needs to realize the importance of not possessing a gun. “He needs to recognize that with his past, he’s playing with fire. If things had turned out a little bit different, it could have been a homicide,” he said. “If he continues on this path, he will be back here. If he’s smart, he will obey the law and not get in trouble.”

        Defense attorney Greg Feldman said he’s looking forward to being reunited with his family. “He is now very well aware of what can happen,” he said. “He’s very much looking forward to the life ahead of him.”

        Judge Herman said he did not dismiss the case after the Court of Appeals ruling because he didn’t think the evidence showed that Smith was not guilty. He did grant a motion for a new trial but the two parties were able to reach a plea agreement before that took place.

        “I know you have a supportive family,” the judge told Smith. “You need to change your ways. There is way too much gun culture in society. If you don’t stay away from guns, you will be back in court. You have an opportunity here to change your ways … Listen to your mother and have a good life.”

        The judge warned Smith that with his prior record that if he is back in court on any charge that involves a firearm, he can expect a sentence at the top end of the guideline range.