Menu

Press Releases

UPDATED: February 26, 2014

banr-pressrelease

 

1997 - 2007 Press Release Archives Key Cases Calendar

 

2008-2014 Press Releases
February 26, 2014 Vercruysse First-Degree Murder Conviction Affirmed
December 16, 2013 Canine "Reagan" Welcomed as a Victim Advocate
November 19, 2013 Charges Issued in September 2013 Vehicle-Motorcycle Crash in Grand Ledge
June 3, 2013 Doug R. Lloyd Named Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney
June 4, 2012 Grand Ledge Teacher Charged with Criminal Sexual Conduct
May 31, 2012 Grand Ledge Man Pleads Guilty to Second Degree Murder
December 12, 2011 Physician Charged With Criminal Sexual Conduct

October 21, 2011

Former Eaton County District Court Employee Found Guilty For Embezzlement

July 18, 2011

 Charges Issued In Disappearance of 83 Year Old Midland Man
April 28, 2011  Lansing Man Charged in Fatal Rollover Crash
April 19,2011  Court Employee Charged in Court Embezzlement
September 16, 2010  Potterville Man Charged In Death Of Motorcyclist 
April 21, 2010   Second Degree Murder Charged in Automobile Crash 
Jan 14, 2010   Another Recent Parolee Charged in B&E, Rifle Theft
Jan 13, 2010   Recent Parolee Charged in Home Invasion, Gun Thefts
Sep 14, 2009   Shooting of Off-Duty LPD Officer Remains Under Investigation
Apr 21, 2009   Eaton County Celebrates 25th Anniversary of Victims of Crime Act
Oct 23, 2008   Herp Sentenced in Potterville Assault / Unlawful Imprisonment
Oct 03, 2008   Two Charlotte Teenagers Charged in a Series of Breaking and Enterings
July 23, 2008   Court of Appeals Affirmed Ex-ECSD Sgt. Jeff Lutz's Convictions
May 02, 2008   Dunham Sentenced to 34-60 Yrs for 2nd Degree Murder in Double-Fatal Crash
Apr 03, 2008   Jury Verdict in Dunham Double-Fatal Crash: Second Degree Murder
Feb 26, 2008   Charges Issued in Potterville Assault
Feb 25, 2008   Prosecutors' Association Recognizes Sr. APA For Years of Service
Jan 26, 2008   Ingham-Clinton-Eaton Prosecuting Attorneys Agree to Regionalize Welfare Fraud Enforcement

 


February 26, 2014 

Patrick Vercruysse First Degree Murder Conviction Affirmed

Douglas R. Lloyd, Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney, announced today that first-degree premeditated murder and receiving/concealing stolen firearm convictions against PATRICK VERCRUYSSE were affirmed on 02/25/2014 by the Michigan Court of Appeals. Vercruysse is serving a mandatory life prison sentence for his murder conviction.

In June 2011, Vercruysse killed 83-year old Seth Thompson. Mr. Thompson, a Midland County resident, was found rolled in a carpet, bound, with his head covered in plastic. Vercruysse admitted having choked the victim with a cord to "make sure he was dead" and later put a plastic bag over his head. An Eaton County jury rejected the defendant's claim that he acted in justifiable self defense, or should have been convicted of a lesser homicide crime.

Sr. APA Kelly Morton was our trial attorney, and headed our appellate response and arguments before the appellate court panel. The court's opinion can be read at http://publicdocs.courts.mi.gov:81/opinions/final/coa/20140225_c311884_43_311884.opn.pdf.

 


December 16, 2013 

Canine "Reagan" Welcomed as a Victim Advocate

Reagan-20131216 Douglas R. Lloyd, Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney, announced the employment today of a new victim advocate in their office. Reagan, a 21-month old black Labrador retriever, will provide support and advocacy to children and adults crime victims. He will be the fifth advocacy dog to work in a Michigan prosecutor’s office.

The Canine Advocacy Program (CAP) supports victims by helping to relieve some of their anxiety at being involved in the criminal justice system. The dogs are trained and donated by Leader Dogs for the Blind, of Rochester, MI. An investigator from the prosecutor’s office will be the sole owner of Reagan, and will be handled by trained victim advocates in the office.

Dan Cojanu, Vice-President & Program Director of CAP, was excited to have Reagan start work in the Eaton County Prosecutor’s Office. “CAP would like to welcome Eaton County Prosecutor Lloyd to our family. The residents of Eaton County are fortunate to have a forward-thinking Prosecuting Attorney who is willing to ‘step outside of the box’ to help children who have been victimized.”

“Having Reagan here as a K-9 advocate is beneficial because coming to court or speaking with law enforcement can be hard,” said Prosecutor Doug Lloyd. “Anything that we can do to ease a victim’s experience in having to speak to officers, attorneys or in court is something I feel we should do. When you look at Reagan, you see an advocate who will help victims and especially children, who are reluctant to talk and unfamiliar with the court process get through the legal process.”

Reagan officially starts his work on December 16th, after a week of getting familiar with his new family. Reagan will be introduced to the Eaton County Board of Commissioners at the end of the public comment section of their meeting on the evening of Wednesday, December 18, 2013.

To connect with Reagan and the Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney on Facebook visit: https://www.facebook.com/reagan.canine?fref=ts and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eaton-County-Prosecuting-Attorney/570478163014537.

For more information about the Canine Advocacy Program, visit www.capmich.com and www.facebook.com/CanineAdvocacyProgram.

 


November 19, 2013 

Charges Issued in September 2013 Vehicle-Motorcycle Crash in Grand Ledge

Douglas R. Lloyd, Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney, announced today that charges were brought against a Charlotte, MI resident on three criminal counts in connection with a vehicle-motorcycle crash that seriously injured an Eaton Rapids woman on September 26, 2013 in Grand Ledge. Prosecutor Lloyd identified the defendant as ZACHARY JAY BOWDEN, age 21, who was charged with: Failure to Stop at the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Serious Impairment of a Bodily Function or Death (a 5-year felony), Reckless Driving Causing Serious Impairment of a Bodily Function (a 5-year felony), and Reckless Driving (a 93-day misdemeanor).

Investigators say that the defendant caused a crash on M-43 near Saginaw Hwy. around 8:30 pm., colliding with a motorcycle ridden by Loreen Wickens, of Eaton Rapids, MI. Mr. Bowden fled the scene but was followed by an eye witness to the crash, during which Mr. Bowden drove in excess of 90 mph and tried to force the witness off the road.

Mr. Bowden was arraigned on November 19, 2013 before Eaton County District Court Judge Julie Reincke. Bond was set at $10,000. A preliminary exam conference is scheduled for Monday, November 25, 2013 at 1:30 pm in the Eaton County District Court, and a preliminary examination is scheduled for November 27, 2013 at 1:00 pm before Judge Harvey Hoffman. All of these hearings will be held in the Eaton County Courthouse, 1045 Independence Blvd., Charlotte, MI 48813. Mr. Bowden is currently represented by Lansing attorney Timothy Hilton Havis.

Mr. Bowden is presumed innocent until proven guilty. As with all criminal defendants, the charges issued are accusations until, and if, the defendant is convicted.

 


June 3, 2013 

Douglas R. Lloyd Named Prosecuting Attorney for Eaton County

Doug Lloyd Douglas R. Lloyd, Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Eaton County since 2008, has been appointed by the 56th Judicial Circuit Court for Eaton County to serve as Prosecuting Attorney. Mr. Lloyd replaces his predecessor, the Honorable Jeffrey L. Sauter, who recently received a judicial appointment by Governor Snyder to the circuit court.

The Honorable Janice Cunningham stated, “After due consideration of the applicants' credentials, and recommendations by the Eaton County law enforcement and legal community, the 56th Judicial Circuit Court for Eaton County is pleased to announce that Douglas R. Lloyd has been determined to be the most qualified individual to be appointed to fill the vacancy of Prosecuting Attorney for the Eaton County Prosecutor’s Office.”

Doug Lloyd said, “I am honored and humbled to be named the Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney to succeed Jeffrey L. Sauter. As the Prosecuting Attorney, it is my intention that the Eaton County Prosecutor’s Office will continue to serve the public as the chief law enforcement agency by exercising sound discretion on a case by case basis in the pursuit of truth and the administration of justice.”

Doug Lloyd has a long history in prosecution. From 1996-2000, he served as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in Jackson County, where he became the Chief Trial Attorney for its Drug and Arson Unit. He has been an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in Eaton County since 2000, initially heading the Drug Crimes Unit. From 2003-2013, Doug Lloyd has been in charge of the Eaton County Economic Crimes Unit (ECU). While Doug Lloyd was in charge of the ECU, he was successful in recovering over $4 million dollars for area merchants through various diversion programs that he was instrumental in creating. He was also successful in partnering the ECU with the Ingham and Clinton County Prosecutors' offices by supervising their bad check and welfare fraud diversion programs. He is regarded as an excellent trial attorney and has successfully prosecuted a variety of criminal cases during his career, and most recently successfully tried and convicted Christopher Perrien for the double homicide of a Delta Township couple in their home.

Doug Lloyd earned his Juris Doctorate degree from Thomas M. Cooley law school in 1992. He possesses a B.A. in criminal justice from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Recently Governor Snyder appointed Doug Lloyd to the Michigan Organized Retail Fraud Advisory Board. He has been actively involved in the community with the Boy Scouts of America, Grand Ledge Area Youth Sports, and is a member of the Delta Governmental Relations Committee and the Knights of Columbus.

 


June 4, 2012 

Grand Ledge Teacher Charged With Criminal Sexual Conduct


Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey L. Sauter announced that his office has charged a Grand Ledge teacher with 3 counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct First Degree and 5 counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct Third Degree involving two victims. CSC First Degree carries a maximum penalty of Life, while CSC 3rd Degree carries a maximum penalty of 15 years.

JASON ROBERT ALGRA, age 32, of Grand Ledge, taught science at Grand Ledge High School and also coached the swim team until October 2011.

Algra was arraigned today in the Eaton County District Court before the Hon. Julie Reincke. Bond was set at $250,000, with conditions that Algra not have any contact with either of the victims, not be employed at any place where minors normally gather, not attend any school functions or events where minors normally gather, not reside in a household where minors reside, and surrender his passport and CPL, if he has one.

Attorney Frank Reynolds, of Lansing, appeared on behalf of Algra.

A Pre-Exam Conference is scheduled on Monday, June 25, 2010 at 1:30 pm, and a Preliminary Examination is set on July 2, 2012 at 10:00 am before the Hon. Julie Reincke.

Grand Ledge Police Department Detective Jason Gooley is the lead investigator in the case. Anyone having information related to the investigation of Jason Algra can contact him at (517) 627-2115.

 


May 31, 2012 

Grand Ledge Man Pleads Guilty To Second Degree Murder

Joshua James PiercefieldEaton County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey L. Sauter announced that, earlier today, JOSHUA JAMES PIERCEFIELD, age 22, of Grand Ledge, pled guilty to Second Degree Murder in the death of three month old Olivia Faith Truax during the 2011 Mother's Day weekend. After his plea, Piercefield was remanded to the Eaton County Jail to await sentencing on May 28, 2012 at 10:30 am before Circuit Court Judge Calvin E. Osterhaven.

In his guilty plea, Piercefield admitted that on Friday, May 6, 2011, he was caring for his girlfriend's baby at her Eaton Rapids apartment and violently shook her out of frustration and anger. He later intentionally dropped Olivia to the floor onto her head, noticed immediate serious injuries and did not notify anyone or seek medical help. Instead, he put the baby to bed. The next morning, he saw that Olivia was still limp and listless, yet he continued on a planned Mother's Day family trip to Ohio with Olivia and her mother without alerting her. Olivia died several days later at the University of Michigan Mott Children's Hospital, after being transported from a Findlay, Ohio hospital.

Second Degree Murder is a felony carrying a maximum sentence of Life or any term of years. As a condition of the defendant's guilty plea, Judge Osterhaven advised that the defendant's sentence would likely be a term of 18-27 years up to 18-30 years in prison.

The case was investigated by the Michigan State Police Department, Lansing and Ypsilanti Posts. The Eaton Rapids Police Department assisted in the investigation.

The case was handled by Senior Assistant Prosecutor Neil O'Brien, Assistant Prosecutor Adrianne Van Langevelde, and former Assistant Prosecutor Kristin Brady. Mr. Piercefield is represented by attorneys Matthew R. Newburg and Eric X. Tomal, of Lansing.

 


 

December 12, 2011

Physician Charged With Criminal Sexual Conduct

       

Eaton County Prosecutor Jeffrey L. Sauter announced that his office has charged a Charlotte physician with one count of Criminal Sexual Conduct Third Degree and two counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct Fourth Degree.  Criminal Sexual Conduct Third Degree carries a maximum penalty of fifteen (15) years, while Criminal Sexual Conduct Fourth Degree carries a maximum penalty of two (2) years.

KASSEM MAHMOUD HALLAK, 53, of Holt, practices medicine at Urgent Care on Meijer Drive in Charlotte.   The sexual assaults occurred between June, 2010 and November, 2011. 

Hallak was arraigned today in the Eaton County District Court before the Hon. Harvey Hoffman.  Bond was set at $50,000/10% with conditions that Dr. Hallak surrender his passport before release and not have contact with any of the victims or any female patient under the age of 40

Attorney John J. Frawley, of Lansing, has filed an appearance on behalf of Dr. Hallak.

A Pre-Exam Conference is scheduled on Monday, January 9, 2012, at 1:30 p.m. and a Preliminary Examination is set on January 13, 2012, at 10:30 a.m. before the Hon. Harvey Hoffman.  Charlotte Police Department Detective Jim Beal is the lead investigator in the case.  Anyone having information related to the investigation of Dr. Hallak can contact him at (517) 541.0149. 

 

October 21, 2011

Former Eaton County District Court Employee Found Guilty For Embezzlement

 

This morning, an Eaton County Circuit Court jury found KELLY JO BECK, age 48, of Lansing, MI, guilty of Embezzlement by a Public Official of over $50.00, a felony carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years or $5,000 fine.  Beck’s bond was revoked and she was remanded to the Eaton County Jail to await sentencing on November 17, 2011 at 8:30 a.m. before Eaton County Circuit Court Judge Calvin E. Osterhaven.

Beck was a cashier in the District Court from early 2005 to December 2010, and was responsible for processing traffic ticket payments and criminal matter monies. Trial testimony by 23 witnesses spanned four days. Many of the witnesses were called to testify about when and how they paid for tickets, which were not accounted for by Beck. The People believed that Beck used a check-for-cash “skimming” scheme, where she repeatedly took money from payments, and later applied other cases’ payments to cover the shortage. She also tried to cover shortages by clearing fines and costs on tickets, stopped payments-due notices, manipulated the credit card system, and destroyed ticket records.Douglas R. Lloyd, the chief assistant prosecuting attorney, tried the case, and said, “This was an important case for all courthouse employees, particularly those in our court clerks’ offices. The public relies on each of them to be honest and trustworthy, and be assured that when they pay hard-earned money for traffic tickets and other criminal matters, they can then go about their business without worry. What Kelly Jo Beck did rocked the foundation of that trust. This jury’s verdict helps restore some of that trust.”

Mr. Lloyd also thanked Beryl Frenger, the current Eaton County District Court administrator, Renate Anderson, Michigan Supreme Court auditor, and Michigan State Police D/Sgt. Frank Mraz for their assistance in the case’s investigation.

At sentencing, the People are expecting to request restitution of $80,454.50.

 

 

July 18, 2011

Charges Issued In Disappearance of 83 Year Old Midland Man

 

Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey L. Sauter announced today that his office authorized 4 felony charges and 1 misdemeanor, against a Charlotte man relating to the discovery of a body of an 83 year old Midland man who had been missing for three weeks.  

PATRICK ALAN VERCRUYSSE, 43, of Charlotte, Michigan, has been charged with   Count 1: Open Murder, Count 2: Unlawful Driving Away a Motor Vehicle; Count 3: Home Invasion – 1st Degree; Count 4: Weapons-Firearms-Receiving and Concealing and Count 5: Stolen Property – Receiving and Concealing - $200 or less but more than $1000, a misdemeanor.  

 The criminal investigation is being handled by the Eaton County Sheriff’s Department. 

Mr. Vercruysse was arraigned today by Eaton County Magistrate Brien Fortino.  Bail was denied.  A preliminary examination conference is scheduled for July 25, 2011 at 1:00 p.m., and the preliminary examination is scheduled for July 29, 2011 at 10:00 a.m., before Judge Hoffman.

 

 

April 28, 2011:

Lansing Man Charged In Fatal Rollover Crash

 

Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey announced that his office has charged a Lansing man with felony charges relating to a roll-over crash in Delta Township on Monday, April 25, 2011. 

David Lee Myers, 24, of Lansing was driving West on Saginaw Hwy at high speed when he swerved and struck the curb, losing control of the vehicle resulting in a roll-over crash.  Perry Lee Embry, 26, was thrown from the rear-seat of the vehicle, and died as a result of injuries caused by the crash.  A second passenger was treated for injuries and has been released from the hospital.  Myers faces three charges: Operating While Intoxicated Causing Death, Reckless Driving Causing Death, and Driving While License Suspended Causing Death.  Each charge has a maximum penalty of fifteen (15) years in prison, but any term of incarceration would be served concurrently.

Sauter stated that “we expect the evidence will show that Myers was speeding and driving aggressively when he lost control of his car and then ran from the scene, leaving the injured passengers with the wreckage of the car.”  At the time of the crash, Myers’ license had been suspended and his driving record included a drinking and driving conviction in 2007 and 5 adjudications for Careless Driving.

Myers was arraigned in Eaton County District Court yesterday by Judge Julie H. Reincke, who set a one million dollar bond and appointed Michael O’Briant of Lansing to represent him.  A Preliminary Examination Conference is scheduled for May 23, 2011, at 1:30 p.m., and a Preliminary Examination on May 26, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. 

The crash is being investigated by Sergeant Rod Sadler, Detective Rick Buxton, and Detective Kevin Hearld of the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office.

Sauter cautioned that these charges represent an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

 

 

April 19, 2011:

Court Employee Charged in Court Embezzlement

 

Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey L. Sauter announced today that his office authorized a felony complaint against a district court employee for embezzlement of court funds between December 2005 and December 2010.

KELLY JO BECK, 48, of Lansing, MI has been charged with embezzlement by a public official of over $50.00, a felony carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years or $5,000.

Sauter said that an audit of the Eaton County District Court records by the State Court Administrative Office is continuing.  The criminal investigation was handled by the Michigan State Police, Major Case Team.

Ms. Beck was arraigned today by Eaton County Judge Julie Reincke.  The judge set bail at $5,000/10%, but is expected to disqualify herself from handling any further proceedings.  A preliminary examination is scheduled for May 16, 2011 at 2:00 p.m., before a visiting judge.

 

 

January 14, 2010:

 

Another Recent Parolee Charged in B&E, Rifle theft

 

mug-RitcheyChristopher-MDOC1


Ritchey
Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey L. Sauter announced today that his office authorized a 5-count felony complaint on January 12, 2010 against a Bellevue parolee regarding breaking and enterings on January 02, 2010 that resulted in the theft of a rifle, tools and other personal property from garages and a vehicle in Carmel Township.

 

CHRISTOPHER TODD RITCHEY, 25, of Bellevue, MI was charged with two counts of Breaking & Entering of a Building (up to 10 years), Receiving / Concealing a Stolen Firearm (up to 10 years), Felon in Possession of a Firearm (up to 5 years), and Larceny From a Motor Vehicle (up to 5 years).

Ritchey had been paroled from prison three months earlier, on September 29, 2009. He was paroled close to his “earliest release date” from a 2006 B&E Building conviction in Calhoun County, where he was sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison. Ritchey had an earlier B&E Building conviction from 2005, where he was sentenced to 1½ to 10 years in prison. In that case, a charge of Receiving / Concealing a Stolen Firearm was dismissed in a plea bargain.

While investigating the Carmel Township burglary where a rifle was stolen, Michigan State Police Department located Ritchey in Charlotte, Michigan with the assistance of the Charlotte Police Department. He had been in a vehicle with a shotgun and revolver next to his seat. MSP’s further investigation led to the recovery of 15 firearms (mostly longs guns, some with no serial numbers) in Calhoun County, purportedly stolen, that had been recently sold or traded by Ritchey and then quickly traded or sold to others. According to MSP reports, charge requests will be filed with the Calhoun County Prosecuting Attorney.

Sr. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Neil O’Brien said, "This is another example of the ongoing impact that the Parole Board’s decisions have on our public safety. The Board assured the public in late September 2009 that Christopher Ritchey – who may have been seen as a ‘non-violent’ or ‘property crime’ felon – was no longer a menace to society, and was ready to return to our community. Three months later, it appears that he stole a rifle and other personal property, and traded this gun and possibly many other stolen guns in our neighboring county. It was only through the determined investigation of our State Police that some have been recovered. But we remain concerned about the rest of the guns."

Sauter thanked the Michigan State Police Department, particularly Tprs. Byrd and Parsons, for its investigation, and the Charlotte Police Department and Eaton County Sheriff’s Department for their assistance.

 



January 13, 2010:

 

Recent Parolee Charged in Home Invasion, Theft of Guns

 

Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey L. Sauter announced today that his office authorized a 4-count felony complaint against a Lansing parolee regarding breaking and enterings in December 2009 that resulted in the theft of two semi-automatic handguns and other items.

JAMES ROBERT WICKS, 42, of Lansing, MI has been charged with Home Invasion Second Degree (felony – up to 15 years), Larceny of Firearms (felony – up to 5 years), Felon in Possession of a Firearm (felony – up to 5 years), and Breaking & Entering of a Building (felony – up to 10 years) arising from burglaries on 12/07/2009 on Jolly Road and Williams Road in Eaton County.

According to the police investigation, the handguns and other items were traded for crack cocaine in Lansing. The guns have not been recovered.

Wicks had been released on parole in June 2009 within days of serving his minimum term of a 2-10 year sentence for Felon in Possession of a Firearm from Mason County (Ludington), Michigan. Wicks’ MDOC prisoner number is 412459. Wicks will be writted from prison to Eaton County for arraignment in the coming week.

Eaton County Sr. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Neil O’Brien said, "This is another example of the direct and ongoing impact that the Parole Board’s decisions have on our public safety. The Parole Board assured the public in June that James Wicks – already convicted on breaking and entering and having a known drug problem -- was no longer a menace to society. Six months later, it appears that he kicked in the front door of a house, stole guns, and traded them for crack cocaine. Now the guns are on the street and may be used to spread more crime through our community. The cost that we all pay for the Parole Board’s decisions is immeasurable."

O’Brien thanked the Michigan State Police Department, for its investigation, particularly Tpr. Jeremy Brewer.

 



September 14, 2009:

 

Shooting of Off-Duty LPD Officer Remains Under Investigation

 

Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey L. Sauter announced today that this office will delay any charging decision in the Saturday morning shooting of an off-duty Lansing Police Department officer by his wife.

Sauter said, "ECSD officers had probable cause to arrest her that morning, but the victim refused to make a statement to ECSD investigators. There is evidence that she was physically assaulted before the shoting. Consequently, I decided to release her from custody and review the facts after the investigation in complete."

 



 
October 23, 2008:

 

Herp Sentenced in Potterville Assault / Unlawful Imprisonment

 

Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey L. Sauter announced today that, earlier today, Circuit Court Judge Thomas S. Eveland sentenced DARRIN JAY HERP II, age 28, of Eaton Rapids, on four felony convictions:
  • Unlawful Imprisonment (45-180 months prison);
  • Assault With A Dangerous Weapon (14-48 months prison);
  • Felony Firearm (24 months prison); and
  • Resisting/Obstructing Police (14-24 months prison).

Herp's Unlawful Imprisonment and Assault With a Dangerous Weapon convictions will be served after his Felony Firearm term ends.

Herp's convictions occurred in the City of Potterville and Benton Township on February 25, 2008. Herp hid in his ex-girlfriend's back seat, armed with a gun, and assaulted her when she returned. A passer-by came to her aid, and Herp fled the scene. A manhunt ensued, during which local schools were locked down.

The case was handled by Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Michael Eagen. Commenting on the case, Mr. Eagen said:

 

"This case could easily have ended with very tragic results. In the early morning, Mr. Herp hid in the back of his ex-girlfriend's car with a gun. When she returned to the car from the store, he confronted her and a struggle began. Timothy Bates was a customer leaving the same store. Mr. Bates intervened in the struggle to rescue the victim. Some would call him a 'good Samaritan', but I believe he was a hero."

Mr. Eagen thanked the Potterville Police Department, the Eaton County Sheriff Department, the Michigan State Police, the Charlotte Police Department, and the Michigan State Police Laboratory.

Mr. Herp was convicted by a jury on September 25, 2008, and is represented by attorney Thomas Hirsbrunner of Lansing.

 


October 03, 2008:

 

Two Charlotte Teenagers Charged in a Series of
Breakings and Enterings

Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey L. Sauter announced earlier today that his office authorized 12-count complaints against two Charlotte teenagers regarding a series of breaking-and-enterings in August and September 2008.

David Robert Reed, 17, of Charlotte, MI, and Benjamin Loy Straub, 17, of Charlotte, Michigan, have been charged with:

  • 7 counts: Break and Enter a Building With Intent to Commit a Larceny (Felony: up to 10 years)
  • Conspiracy to Break and Enter a Building With Intent With Intent to Commit a Felony (Felony: up to 10 years and $10,000 fine)
  • Larceny $1,000 or more / Less than $20,000 (Felony: up to 5 years and/or $10,000 fine)
  • False Report of a Felony (Felony: up to 4 years and/or $2,000)
  • Malicious Destruction of Personal Property $200.00 or More But Less Than $1,000 (Misdemeanor: up to 1 year and/or $2,000)

Benjamin Straub was charged with an additional count: Entry Without Permission (Misdemeanor: up to 90 days and/or $500). If convicted of several counts, the defendants' sentences will likely be served concurrently.

Both defendants were arraigned this afternoon in the Eaton County District Court and have been released on bond. Pre-Examination Conferences are scheduled for Friday, 10/10/2008 at 9:30 am (Reed) and Monday, 10/13/2008 at 1:00 pm (Straub). Preliminary Examinations are scheduled for Thursday, 10/16/2008 at 10:00 am.

The felony Breakings and Enterings occurred between 09/15/2008 and 09/21/2008 at a business on Lansing Road where office equipment was stolen on two separate dates, and several buildings at the Eaton County Fairgrounds, Bennett Park and the Charlotte Junior Orioles Athletic Booster buildings (equipment sheds and a concession stand).

The Charlotte Police Department investigated of the crimes, and was led by Det. Bob King. David Reed is represented by attorney David L. Zoglio, of Lansing. Benjamin Straub is represented by attorney William R. Weise, of Charlotte.

 



July 23, 2008:

 

Court of Appeals Affirms Ex-ECSD Sgt. Jeffrey Lutz's Convictions

 

mug-lutzjeff-ecsd

Lutz

Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey L. Sauter announced earlier today that, in an opinion dated July 22, 2008, the Michigan Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the convictions and sentences of former Eaton County Sheriff's Sgt. Jeffery Shannon Lutz, who shot himself and blamed the shooting on a fictitious African-American suspect. The shooting occurred while Lutz was on duty, in March of 2006. Lutz resigned from the Sheriff's Department in October of 2006.

In March 2007, a jury convicted Lutz of making a false report of a felony, discharging a firearm at an emergency vehicle, reckless use of a firearm, and making a false report to a police radio station. Eaton County Circuit Judge Thomas S. Eveland sentenced Lutz to five years' probation with 60 days in jail, community service, and restitution.

On appeal, Lutz claimed that the trial prosecutor committed misconduct, and the trial judge erred by denying the defendant's motion for a mistrial. Lutz argued that Prosecutor Sauter committed misconduct in his opening statement by referring to "suicide messages" left by the defendant as voice mails on his estranged wife's cell phone. Lutz also argued that Judge Eveland, abused his discretion by denying Lutz's motion for a mistrial based on this alleged prosecutorial misconduct.

The Court of Appeals panel of Judges Henry William Saad, Karen M. Fort Hood and Stephen L. Borrello found that the good-faith effort by the prosecutor to admit evidence did not constitute misconduct despite later defense objections based on the spousal privilege and hearsay rule.

After Mr. Sauter's opening statement, Judge Eveland excluded the evidence, but the Court of Appeals found that "the trial court was overly generous to defendant by excluding evidence based merely on a determination that its probative value was outweighed by its prejudicial effect rather than based on a determination that its probative value was substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice." The prosecutor could not have known that the trial court would exercise its discretion in this manner, the Court of Appeals wrote, "because it is reasonable to believe that evidence of defendant's expressions of a suicidal intent shortly after being confronted with the police having recovered potentially incriminating evidence was substantially probative as evidence of consciousness of guilt."

The incriminating evidence consisted of a .25-caliber handgun loaned to Lutz by a fellow deputy. The borrowed handgun matched shell casings found at the crime scene. Those shell casings did not match Lutz's service weapon, a .40-caliber handgun, which was fired five times. A witness living near the crime scene heard only five shots that night. The prosecution theorized that Lutz planted the shell casings as evidence of a second handgun - allegedly used by his fictitious assailant - at the crime scene.

The Court of Appeals concluded that the prosecutor referred to the proposed evidence in his opening statement based on a good-faith belief that it was properly admissible. Finally, there was no constitutional violation of the Confrontation Clause because, viewed objectively, the circumstances indicate that the defendant's estranged wife primarily made statements to a detective to obtain police assistance regarding an ongoing emergency, to prevent Lutz from committing suicide.

Sr. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney William M. Worden filed the People's appellate brief. Susan M. Meinberg, of the State Appellate Defender's office, represented Lutz on his appeal.

 



May 02, 2008:

 

Dunham Sentenced to 34-60 Yrs for
2nd Degree Murder in Double-Fatal Crash

 

Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey L. Sauter announced that, earlier today, Circuit Court Judge Thomas S. Eveland sentence Russell Percy Dunham, Jr., 31, of Lansing, to 34-60 years in prison on each of two counts of Second Degree Murder from a two-vehicle crash on May 24, 2007 in Eaton Rapids Township. These sentences will run concurrently. Dunham mug-DunhamRussell-MDoCwas convicted by a Circuit Court jury on April 02, 2008, concluding a three-day trial in which 24 witnesses testified.

Dunham was driving westbound on Columbia Highway, approaching Canal Road, when he ran a stop sign in excess of 80 miles per hour and crashed into a vehicle operated by Pennie Sue Sharp, 48, of Eaton Rapids. Ms. Sharp died instantly as a result of injuries sustained in the crash. The impact also killed Carolyn J. Merrill, 22, also of Eaton Rapids, a passenger in the Dunham vehicle. "Alcohol tests showed his blood-alcohol level was 0.17%, over twice the legal limit to be driving," Sauter said.

Dunham was remanded to the Eaton County jail until his scheduled sentencing before Eaton County Circuit Court Judge Thomas S. Eveland on Friday, May 02, 2008 at 9:00 am. Mr. Dunham is represented by Attorney Timothy Havis of Lansing. Second Degree Murder has a statutory maximum penalty of Life or any term of years.

The case was handled by Senior Assistant Prosecutor Neil O'Brien and Assistant Prosecutor Brent Morton. Commenting on the case, Mr. O'Brien said:

"Our hearts go out to the families and friends of Pennie Sharp and Carolyn Merrill. Their deaths were senseless and even though justice has been done, we recognize that the pain of this tragedy continues for those closest to the victims. Many relatives and friends spoke to the court at sentencing, or wrote heartfelt letters about these delightful ladies who loved life, and the people in their lives. Our thoughts are also with the ordinary citizens who stopped to render whatever aid and, ultimately, comfort they could to the victims. The jury's verdict - choosing Second Degree Murder over less-serious crimes like OWI Causing Death or Involuntary Manslaughter - reflected the essence of this case. This was a fatal reckless, high-speed crash case, not 'just' a fatal drunk driving case."

Mr. O'Brien also thanked investigators and officers from the Eaton County Sheriff Department for their assistance, particularly Sgt. Rod Sadler, Detective Jeff McNeil and Detective Tim Fandel. Sgt. Sadler, the case's crash reconstruction expert, testified that the damage inflicted on Mrs. Sharp's heavy duty truck was among the most devastating he has seen in his career, and reflected the recklessness of Dunham's speed.

People v Dunham was the first Eaton County case in which murder charges were filed in a motor vehicle death case where alcohol was a significant factor. Previously, a less serious charge like OWI Causing Death would have been filed. However, since 1998, Michigan appellate courts have approved Second Degree Murder charges involving factors like high blood-alcohol levels, high speeds, reckless driving, disobeying traffic control devices, driving when the defendant knew he was too drunk to drive, etc. This conduct, in total, can prove the 'malice' element of murder ("knowingly creating a very high risk of death or great bodily harm knowing that death or such harm would be the likely result")."

Second Degree Murder has a statutory maximum penalty of Life or any term of years. The felony sentencing guidelines established the possible minimum sentence of 26¼ years in prison. Mr. O'Brien argued that the judge should impose a minimum sentence of 40 years.

Mr. Dunham is represented by attorney Timothy Hilton Havis of Lansing.

 



 April 03, 2008:

 

Jury Verdict in Dunham Double-Fatal Crash:
Second Degree Murder

 

mug-DunhamRussell-MDoC Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey L. Sauter announced today that an Eaton County Circuit Court jury convicted Russell Percy Dunham, Jr., 31, of Lansing, of two counts of Second Degree Murder from a two-vehicle crash on May 24, 2007 in Eaton Rapids Township. The verdict, announced at 8:30 pm on April 02, 2008, concluded a three-day trial in which 24 witnesses testified. The jury deliberated for four hours.

Dunham was driving westbound on Columbia Highway, approaching Canal Road, when he ran a stop sign in excess of 80 miles per hour and crashed into a vehicle operated by Pennie Sue Sharp, 48, of Eaton Rapids. Ms. Sharp died instantly as a result of injuries sustained in the crash. The impact also killed Carolyn J. Merrill, 22, also of Eaton Rapids, a passenger in the Dunham vehicle. "Alcohol tests showed his blood-alcohol level was 0.17%, over twice the legal limit to be driving," Sauter said.

Dunham was remanded to the Eaton County jail until his scheduled sentencing before Eaton County Circuit Court Judge Thomas S. Eveland on Friday, May 02, 2008 at 9:00 am. Mr. Dunham is represented by Attorney Timothy Havis of Lansing. Second Degree Murder has a statutory maximum penalty of Life or any term of years.

The case was handled by Senior Assistant Prosecutor Neil O'Brien and Assistant Prosecutor Brent Morton. Commenting on the case, Mr. O'Brien said: "Our hearts go out to the families and friends of Pennie Sharp and Carolyn Merrill. Their deaths were senseless and even though justice has been done, we recognize that the pain of this tragedy continues for those closest to the victims. Our thoughts are also with the ordinary citizens who stopped to render whatever aid and, ultimately, comfort they could to the victims. Finally, our thanks go out to the jury. Their verdict - choosing Second Degree Murder over OWI Causing Death or Involuntary Manslaughter - reflected the essence of this case. It was a fatal reckless, high-speed crash case, not 'just' a fatal drunk driving case. Their task was difficult, but they did their job well."

People v Dunham was the first Eaton County case in which murder charges were filed in a motor vehicle death case where alcohol was a significant factor. Previously, a less serious charge like OWI Causing Death would have been filed. However, since 1998, Michigan appellate courts have affirmed Second Degree Murder convictions involving factors like high blood-alcohol levels, high speeds, reckless driving, disobeying traffic control devices, driving when the defendant knew he was too drunk to drive, etc. This conduct, in total, proves the 'malice' element of murder -- "knowingly creating a very high risk of death or great bodily harm knowing that death or such harm would be the likely result."

Mr. O'Brien also thanked investigators and officers from the Eaton County Sheriff Department for their assistance, particularly Sgt. Rod Sadler, Detective Jeff McNeil and Detective Tim Fandel. Sgt. Sadler, the case's crash reconstruction expert, testified that the damage inflicted on Mrs. Sharp's heavy duty truck was among the most devastating he has seen in his career, and reflected the recklessness of Dunham's speed.

 



February 26, 2008:

 

Charges Issued in Potterville Assault

 


mug-HerpDarrin1

Herp

Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey L. Sauter announced today that he authorized charges in an assault incident from 02/25/2008 in Potterville that resulted in a lock-down of Potterville schools.

Darrin Jay Herp, II, 28, of Eaton Rapids, has been charged with Unlawful Imprisonment (Felony: up to 15 years and/or $20,000 fine), Assault With A Dangerous Weapon (Felony: up to 4 Years and/or $2,000 fine), Felony Firearm (Felony: 2 Years consecutive and preceding other incarcerations) and Resisting/Obstructing Police (Felony: up to 2 years and/or $2,000 fine).

Mr. Herp was arraigned today in the Eaton County District Court before the Hon. Julie Reincke. Bond was set at $500,000 cash/surety with conditions that he not consume alcohol, that he be released from jail only with a GPS tether, and possess no or use firearms, that he have no contact with the victim or members of her household, and that he remain at least a mile from the victim's residence and place of employment.

Attorney George M. Betts, of Lansing, was appointed to represent Mr. Herp.

Future District Court court hearings include a Pre-Exam Conference on Monday, 03/03/2008 at 1:00 pm, and a Preliminary Examination on Thursday, 03/06/2008 at 10:00 am before the Hon. Julie Reincke.

 



February 25, 2008:

 

Prosecutors' Association Recognizes Sr. APA
for Years of Service

Eaton County Sr. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney William Worden was recognized by the Michigan Prosecuting Attorneys Association and its President, Charles Koop, for his twenty years of service as a prosecutor. The award was presented in conjunction with PAAM's Mid-Winter Conference at the Grand Traverse Resort in Acme, MI on 02/07/2008.

Bill has been an Eaton County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney since 1988, and has been a Sr. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney since 1989. He previously worked in Lapeer, MI in the private practice of law (1986-1987), and as a Circuit Court law clerk (1982-1985). Bill is an Appellate Specialist.

 



January 26, 2008:

 

Ingham-Clinton-Eaton Prosecuting Attorneys Agree to
Regionalize Welfare Fraud Enforcement

Stuart Dunnings, III, Ingham County Prosecuting Attorney, will announce an agreement to expand regional cooperation to the enforcement of welfare fraud cases through the Eaton County Economic Crimes Unit, on Monday, January 28, 2008 @ 10:00 am at the Lansing Mall.

The Economic Crimes Unit was begun by Jeff Sauter, Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney, in 2003 with Byrne grant funding. The unit was designed on a business model, and is self-funded through payments made by offenders who are offered an opportunity for diversion from criminal prosecution.

Doug Lloyd, Sr. Assistant APA and supervisor of the Economic Crimes Unit, developed the Welfare Fraud program in conjunction with the Inspector General's Office of the Michigan Department of Human Services. Since July 2006, that program has netted over $126,000 in restitution to the State from Eaton County cases alone.

This announcement will represent an expansion of cooperation between the Ingham and Eaton offices. Dunnings cross-appointed Mr. Lloyd as a special assistant prosecutor for social security fraud cases in April 2007. That program has resulted in combined restitution to federal authorities in excess of $33,000.

"I have been very pleased with the success of the social security fraud cases and am aware of the ECU's success with wefare fraud case. I believe it is time to expand our regional cooperation and have the ECU screen our welfare fraud cases for potential diversion from formal prosecution," Dunnings said. "And, I'm also pleased to announce that Clinton County Prosecuting Attorney Charles Sherman has agreed to incude Clinton County's welfare fraud cases."

 


 

| Eaton County Home | Prosecuting Attorney Home | Office Info | Paperless Files | Press Releases | Site Map |
| Victims | Domestic Violence | PPOs | Witnesses | Appeals | Economic Crimes | Family Support |
| Criminal Case Process | Downloads | FAQs | Legal Glossary | Gov't & Search Links | Prosecutor Web Site Index |
 

© 1997-2014 Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney Douglas R. Lloyd | Disclaimers | Thanks
© 1997-2014 Eaton County Information Systems
Site developed and maintained by Neil F. O'Brien

Jury Calendar

September 2014
S M T W T F S
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 1 2 3 4
October 2014
S M T W T F S
28 29 30 1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31 1
Go to top