Retrial for Kranz goes to Appeals

Daniel Pepper, Staff Writer

An Allegan County judge has finished ruling on a series of pieces of evidence excluded from an Allegan man’s trial for child molestation.

After Judge Kevin Cronin’s rulings, the Michigan Court of Appeals will decide whether Earl Robert Kranz is entitled to a new trial following his 2011 conviction for sexually abusing his young daughter.

Most of the evidence in question involved not the victim in this case, but Kranz’s two older children who’d made sexual abuse allegations at him. In the original trial prosecutors introduced the fact that such allegations had been made and Kranz’s defense team advanced the theory the older children had convinced the victim to make up the allegations against their father.

Whether the documents would have been admissible if brought forward by the defense is at issue in Kranz’s appeal, which alleges ineffective assistance of counsel by his defense attorney in the case.

“I’m mindful in making all these rulings that the defendant is on trial for some very serious charges that carry a very serious penalty,” Cronin said. “He has a very important right to attack the testimony against him, in the language of the court rule.”

Cronin ruled on whether a divorce decree, which mentioned the sexual abuse allegations, would have been admissible in the trial.
“Would this have allowed additional questions?” Cronin said. “In my view, the answer is unquestionably yes.

“The weight of it is for the jury to decide.”

Cronin also ruled on the offered testimony and report of a Department of Human Services worker from Kent County named Deb Berndt who’d been involved in a child neglect/abuse case against Kranz and had claimed the two other children were not credible.

Their testimony was allowed in the 2011 trial under a legal doctrine called “similar acts” and Kranz’s current attorney, Randy Davidson, argued the social worker’s opinion should be admitted.

Cronin ruled Berndt could be called to testify as to the witnesses’ reputation or credibility, but her report was not allowed.

For full story, pick up a copy of the Oct. 23 issue of The Allegan County News or subscribe to the e-edition.

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