CORUNNA — An Owosso man who has served nearly 500 days in the Shiawassee County Jail pleaded no contest to a reduced charged of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct Thursday in 35th Circuit Court, and was released from jail.
Nathan Lott, 32, was originally charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in December 2018. After he rejected a plea agreement from prosecutors, he was acquitted by a jury in October 2019 at his ensuing trial after just 31 minutes.
Within days of his acquittal, Lott was again charged by prosecutors with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. He was also charged with absconding from bond in October 2019, and was convicted by a jury of that offense in September.
Lott is still awaiting sentencing on the absconding conviction, but sentencing guidelines indicate he likely has enough credit for time served, and will probably not receive any further term of incarceration.
A no contest plea is different than a guilty plea. Under a no contest plea, a defendant does not admit guilt, but the plea is treated the same as a guilty plea for sentencing purposes. Under the terms of Lott’s plea Thursday, Lott must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
At Thursday’s hearing, Prosecutor-elect Scott Koerner told 35th Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart that he was approving the no contest plea because he didn’t want to force the victim to have to go through another trial.
“This is a very complicated case, as the court knows,” Koerner said. “I have been in extensive consultation with the victim who is now 12, who wants to move on with her life. I think it’s in the best interests of justice and the victim. This is what she wants to see happen … I think this is a fair resolution, and I would not have entered into this without the backing of the victim 100 percent. This is how she wants to proceed, how the family wants to proceed. They want some closure. They want to heal. They want to move on with their lives.”
Co-defense counsel Bill Amadeo agreed with Koerner and noted that Lott has been in jail for 485 days, which raises constitutional issues (speedy trial), since COVID numbers in Shiawassee County have risen sharply, and jury trials in circuit court are on hold until they come down, likely several months away.
“We had extensive negotiations on this matter,” Amadeo said. “And I would note Mr. Koerner was certainly not in favor of this. He’s been very clear he doesn’t want to re-victimize the victim … The sticking point for the people, and I don’t want to speak for Mr. Koerner, is that the defendant will register for life as a sex offender. Based on the risk factor of this case, Mr. Koerner felt this was a fair resolution, only because he had the support of this victim. We appreciate that.”
Stewart then told Koerner, Amadeo and co-defense counsel Matt McKone he would not interfere with the plea agreement.
“Both parties consider the agreement to be acceptable,” Stewart said. “And it’s the outcome both prosecutor and defense attorneys find appropriate… It’s not the court’s role to comment on the agreement, whether it be positive or negative. And it’s not nearly the court’s job or role to interfere with the agreement. It looks like this is a deal both parties want, and the court is not going to stand in the way of your decision.”
Lott has a 2011 felony conviction for attempted resisting/obstructing a police officer, several minor traffic-related misdemeanors and civil infractions, and the September felony conviction for absconding from bond.