CORUNNA — An Owosso man was sentenced to prison Friday for aggravated assault, possession of methamphetamine and fleeing/eluding a police officer by 35th Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart.
Joshua Birge, 34, will spend one year, 11 months to 10 years with the Michigan Department of Corrections on those three felony counts, and was credited with 170 days served toward his sentence. Stewart also ordered Birge to pay court costs and fines. Numerous other felony charges were dismissed or reduced by prosecutors as part of a plea agreement.
Friday’s sentencing hearing became contentious, with defense attorney Kirsten Irey-Iverson stating that her client had “been beaten up” during an encounter with Owosso Police, and had suffered numerous injuries. She asked the court to impose a term of incarceration in the county jail.
“Mr. Birge was charged with three counts of resisting,” Irey-Iverson said, describing several dismissed counts of felony resisting/obstructing a police officer. “He endured conduct that nobody should have to endure… Mr. Birge was beaten, his spine was fractured, he had eight broken bones in his face, a broken nose, and this was based on him doing absolutely nothing wrong. This is what he suffered as a result of being in the criminal justice system.”
Stewart, however, said that dismissed charges would have no bearing on the sentence Birge would receive. Birge is apparently mulling a civil lawsuit against Owosso Police for the incident in which he was allegedly beaten. The felony charges of resisting/obstructing a police officer were dismissed by the prosecutor’s office.
Prosecutor Deana Finnegan asked the court to impose a prison sentence, and noted that Birge had been caught with empty baggies with meth residue and several scales in his vehicle, and added some of the charges involved an assault on his girlfriend.
“He pistol whipped his girlfriend, pointed a gun at her, and he got off here with an aggravated assault,” Finnegan said. “Certainly, pistol whipping someone is something this court needs to assess.”
When Stewart asked if Birge had any statement to make before sentencing, Birge only stated that he “wanted rehab.”
“The first I’ve heard of police assaulting you was today by your lawyer,” Stewart said before imposing sentence. “I didn’t know anything about that. Your sentence will be based on what’s in this report. You’re not going to get punished because your attorney and I had an exchange. That’s not justice. You’re going to be sentenced based on what you’ve done in the past. You have failed the only two times you’ve been on probation — you were discharged unsatisfactorily. You had a number of drug-related items that indicate to the court you’re likely some sort of drug dealer. I will pass on treatment courts or giving you a community sanction.”