CORUNNA — An Owosso man, whom prosecutor Deana Finnegan said “started an assaultive life of crime at 13,” was sentenced to prison Friday in 35th Circuit Court by Judge Matthew Stewart.
Kristopher Cole, 33, was sentenced to four years, nine months to 20 years in prison for possession of meth (habitual offender-3rd offense). He was ordered to pay fines and costs, and was credited with 220 days served.
Cole was arrested and charged with operating a meth lab Nov. 7, 2018, following a MAGNET raid at his residence.
He was arraigned on the charge Nov. 9, 2018, by 66th District Court Judge Terrance Dignan; he pleaded not guilty and has been lodged at the Shiawassee County jail since that time while awaiting the disposition of the case.
Cole agreed to plead guilty at a plea hearing in Circuit Court April 2. In return for his plea, prosecutors reduced the maintaining a meth lab charge to a meth possession (habitual offender-3rd offense) charge.
At Friday’s sentencing hearing, prosecutor Deana Finnegan reviewed Cole’s lengthy criminal history and asked the court to impose a long term of incarceration with the Michigan Dept. of Corrections.
“Mr. Cole’s record stems back 20 years, starting when he was 13,” Finnegan said. “It wasn’t drugs then. It was assault and battery. He’s 14 and placing explosives near property. Malicious destruction of property, home invasion-second, domestic violence, home invasion again, resisting and obstructing, assault and battery, delaying telecommunications devices, abandoning and cruelty to an animal, resisting and obstructing again, assault and battery. It goes on and on and on. Frankly, I’m not seeing a lot of drug charges until we get here… Mr. Cole has had numerous opportunities to rehabilitate himself. Just recently in November 2018, felon in possession of a firearm reduced to brandishing a firearm in public… I don’t understand the assaultive behavior or cruelty to animals. I don’t understand starting an assaultive life of crime at just 13 years of age… I think (a prison sentence) is fair, considering this young man’s horrendous criminal history.”
Cole’s attorney Matthew McKone offered an impressive elocution in defense of his client. McKone told the court about his client attending church services, going to meetings and taking classes while awaiting sentencing. He noted that Cole’s employer was holding his job, and asked the court for a short period of incarceration.
“I’ve known Kristopher for a number of years,” McKone said. “I’ve been involved in some of the cases and history that bring us here. At no point during those cases did I see a sincere Kris that thought, ‘I need to get better. I need to do better for myself.’ And I’ve seen that in the Kris that I know today. He’s an addict. He’s finally coming to that realization… I see someone who wants to change… I get excited when I see someone who talks about being clean for 8 months… Kris had a horrible infection in his mouth while he was incarcerated. The jail released him. He was transferred from Memorial to Saginaw at St. Mary’s. He was admitted there, had to undergo emergency surgery and was being treated. This court ordered that when he was done, he was to go back to the jail… He called his father and his father took him back to jail. That says to me this is somebody who is finally understanding the role they want to play in the world and finally understanding what he wants to do. And that’s get better.”
Cole took responsibility for his actions in a statement to the court. “I make no excuses. Anything in the file you see before you, I’m guilty as sin… I make no excuse for the charge as it was written. I understand why I was charged, but I didn’t feel guilty of the crime.”
“You didn’t feel guilty walking into True Value to buy components to make meth?” Stewart asked. “MAGNET goes in your apartment and finds a meth lab? You don’t feel guilty of that?”
“I understand the things I’ve done,” Cole answered. “I accept responsibility. I’m an addict but I wasn’t always an addict… I’ve worked hard to have a home and have a fiance and to have my first child. Drugs have taken every bit of it from me. I allowed drugs to take control of my life and destroy it. Because of that, I have to stand before you and everyone in this court room and be embarrassed. My family is embarrassed… Whatever judgment you decide is fit, I think you’re a man of integrity and will do what is right, not just by me, but everyone in this court room.”
Stewart then told Cole that he was empathetic, but due to his prior record, the court was required to impose a prison sentence.
“You’ve been in (prison) three times,” Stewart said. “After you were discharged in November 2016… Drugs brought you down. I’m sorry. We’re doing everything we can to combat substance abuse disorders in Shiawassee County. It’s like trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon. It seems impossible. But I guess we’ll do it a little at a time… We’ve seen brief glimpses of what Mr. Cole can be. You’re 33. You’re not going to be an old man when you’re released, but you don’t have many shots left.”