SOUTH BEND — For the second week in a row, two cases were settled, including one involving a suspect from the second major drug raid this year by the Pacific County Drug Task Force. The other case stemmed from an incident over two years ago.
Pacific County Superior Court Judge Don Richter and his staff were inside the courtroom again last week, along with Prosecutor Ben Haslam, Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tracey Munger, and Deputy Prosecutor Joe Faurholt. Defense attorneys David Hatch and Harold Karlsvik were also present in the courtroom.
Other than the cases they were settled, the rest of the hearings were either set over a week or two or established trial dates per the norm each week.
Damon D. Townsend
Damon D. Townsend was arrested during a drug raid by the Pacific County Drug Task Force on Feb. 19 in Raymond. As a result, he was charged with three felonies, including possession with the intent to deliver both methamphetamine and heroin. He appeared before the court for a change of plea and sentencing with his attorney Hatch. He appeared out of custody after bailing out a short time after being booked into jail.
The hearing got off to a quick start, with Hatch informing the court that a resolution had been reached involving his client pleading guilty to all five counts he was facing. In exchange for his plea, the prosecution recommended he be sentenced to 60 months in prison (5 years) followed by 12 months of community custody.
Townsend has a lengthy criminal history, including previous stints incarcerated for drug abuse, and once was a counselor for recovering addicts. Due to his criminal record, he has an offender score of 9+, and his standard range for the charges is 60-120 months in prison.
Both the defense and prosecution were in sync with the request, but Richter showed hesitancy after allowing Townsend to address the court. His only statement was that “This is not where I wanted to be in my life. I did everything I was supposed to when I got out of prison the last time.”
Townsend continued by telling the court after his release from prison, he was placed on an antidepressant that began causing seizures, so he had to stop taking them. As a result, it led to him spiraling downhill and ultimately reverting to illegal drug use once again.
“You know from personal experience how damaging this is to an individual, and you may have a very sad story, but there is nothing in your story that gives you the right [to deal heroin], and you of all people should know that,” the judge said.
Before handing down his ruling, Richter also noted that Townsend should be very thankful for his legal representation. “That man next to you, you should be very thankful for because you [should be going] to prison for maximum and not the minimum,” he said.
Richter accepted the resolution as written along with lowering Townsend’s fees to $500 for the case. Townsend was then asked to move to the back of the courtroom to be taken into custody by the jail staff to be booked into the jail and await being transferred to prison.
Casey D. Collins
Casey D. Collins was arrested on March 26 after evading a felony warrant for the past two years stemming from a burglary and harassment incident in Raymond. He was present via Zoom from the Pacific County Jail for a change of plea and sentencing and is represented by Hatch.
The hearing began with Faurholt informing the court that the charges for the case were being amended from first-degree burglary and harassment to one count of second-degree assault. The defense sided with the request, and the court accepted the amended charges.
Following the amended charges, Hatch informed the court that a resolution had been reached with his client pleading guilty to the assault charge. In exchange for the plea, the prosecution recommended a sentence of 3 months in jail followed by 12 months of community custody, resulting in his client’s first “strike offense.”
Richter allowed both sides to give their arguments as to why he should accept the agreement, with both noting it was an appropriate recommendation. The standard range for his charge with an offender score of 0 is 3 to 9 months in jail.
Collings chose not to speak during the hearing when asked if he had anything to say. He answered each question directed at him with either “yes sir” or “yes, your honor.” Richter noted that the defendant was “getting a pretty good break here” before accepting the recommendation.
Before the hearing ended, Richter stated he was sentencing Collins to “the 30 days” before Hatch corrected him and noted “my client isn’t happy about that” as Collins began chuckling on the Zoom feed.
Ronald T. Green
Ronald T. Green entered a change of plea on Nov. 2, 2020, as part of a case resolution for the charge of fourth-degree assault domestic violence. He was sentenced to 364 days in jail with 363 days suspended and was credited for time served for the remaining one day. As part of the case’s resolution, he was also required to complete several evaluations.
He was present inside the courtroom with his attorney Michael Janhunen for a review hearing to check his progress. During the hearing, the prosecution noted that documents were provided to them and the court before and on the day of the hearing that he had completed all resolution requirements.
The court had to take no action, and it was noted that no future court appearances would be necessary. Richter did take a moment to commend Green for his progress since being sentenced by stating, “it sounds like you’re doing well, congratulations.”