Dowagiac man gets prison time on multiple charges

Published 1:13 pm Friday, July 5, 2024

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CASSOPOLIS — A Dowagiac man with a long criminal history as well as ongoing anger problems was sentenced to prison Friday in Cass County Circuit Court.

     Travis LaVaughan Shell, 45, of West Wayne Street in Dowagiac, was found guilty of several counts after an early June jury trial including one count each of third offense domestic violence and felonious assault as well as four counts of resisting and obstructing police.

     Shell was sentenced as a habitual offender to two terms of four years to 15 years in prison for the domestic violence and felonious assault counts and four terms of 46 months to 15 years in prison for the resisting and obstructing police counts. All terms are concurrent.

     Shell has credit for 127 days already served. He must pay $1,388 in fines and costs.

     The incident occurred March 1 at a home on West Wayne Street in Dowagiac. Shell got into an altercation with his cousin over a dog in the early evening hours, punching him and cutting him. The cousin was able to leave the house and call police and was transported to the hospital. He now has a permanent scar on his face.

     Cass County Circuit Court Judge Mark Herman noted the first officer on the scene tried to make contact with Shell who refused to come out. Other officers then arrived and were there for several hours before they forced entry and found Shell hiding behind the stairs in the basement.

     Cass County Assistant Prosecutor Jason Ronning took note of Shell’s “very extensive” criminal record including a previous domestic violence conviction where Shell was sentenced to prison.

“His record shows that we need protection for the community,” he said.

     Ronning also thanked the police officers involved in the situation.

“I did want to point out my gratitude for all the law enforcement officers,” he said. “They surrounded the house for several hours. This incident could have gone far worse.”

     Defense attorney Greg Feldman said Shell suffers from physical and mental issues. “I’m not saying that he wasn’t responsible, he was,” he said. “He is very apologetic and remorseful.”

     Shell said he had promised himself he wouldn’t be in a courtroom again.

“I’m sorry to be here again,” he said. “Before March 1, I had been staying busy, working and learning other skills. I promised myself and others that I wouldn’t go back (to prison). I wish March 1 wouldn’t have ever happened, I didn’t think it would go that far.”

     “I’m sorry for acting the fool,” he added. “I know the officers were just doing their job. I’m trying to do something with my life. I want to get back to trying to get my life straightened out.”

     Judge Herman told Shell that he should have never allowed the situation to escalate the way it did.

“You have suffered consequences numerous times in the past because of your anger,” he said. “You are 45 years old and no stranger to the criminal justice system.”

     The judge pointed out that Shell has 11 felony and 16 misdemeanor convictions as an adult and seven adjudications as a juvenile.

“You have spent four and a half years in the county jail and two and a half years in prison,” he said. “You were recently discharged from parole in December, 2023.”

     “You have to work on getting your anger under control and not putting yourself in situations where it can escalate,” the judge added.