Armed robbery case sent back to district court after charge increased

Stefan Kern

CORUNNA — A Durand man charged with attempted armed robbery who was appearing in 35th Circuit Court Tuesday saw his case remanded to 66th District Court after prosecutors elected to instead charge him with armed robbery — which is punishable by up to life in prison.

Stefan Kern, 30, was charged by prosecutors in May after allegedly using a handgun March 16 to rob a victim in downtown Durand. He was arraigned May 5 before 66th District Court Judge Terrance Dignan. He pleaded not guilty, and later waived his preliminary examination. He has been held in jail since his arrest.

Tuesday, Kern was scheduled for a plea hearing on the attempted robbery charge, but Shiawassee County assistant prosecutor Adam Masserang filed a motion that increased the charge to armed robbery — and the prison term from a maximum of five years to life in prison.

Kern’s attorney Jacob Raleigh filed a motion to have the case remanded to district court for a preliminary examination.

“I don’t think it would be fair of us to deprive Mr. Kern of that opportunity,” Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart said in granting the request.

During the hearing, Kern stated that regardless of whether his case was remanded back to district court, he intends to take his case to trial, and asked for a personal recognizance bond. He also questioned how much longer his case would take to get to trial.

“I was an essential worker, and I still have my job,” Kern said. “I’m not a violent criminal. I plan on taking this fully to trial. I still have my right to a speedy trial, correct? That’s my right as a human being, as a U.S. citizen. I get a chance at a life sentence and a right to a preliminary examination when I’m ready to go to trial as-is? I’m not proficient in law, but it sounds like I could be left in here for an indefinite period of time, for a crime I did not commit.”

Raleigh told his client it was in his best interest to take advantage of having a preliminary examination.

“If he exercises his right to have this right to have a preliminary examination, he’s going to get on a new track, which is going to take longer. You can’t have it both ways,” Stewart said.

After a short delay, Stewart ordered Kern’s case remanded to district court. Further proceedings have not yet been scheduled.

Kern has a 2013 misdemeanor conviction for illegal entry without permission that was reduced from a felony third-degree home invasion charge. Court records indicate he pleaded guilty and served 15 days in jail.

He also has misdemeanor convictions for possession of marijuana and malicious destruction of property (less than $100) in 2008, possession of marijuana in 2012, and several minor civil infractions.

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