Otsego man sentenced for police chase
By Daniel Pepper
An Otsego man who—with his two children in the car—led police on a high speed chase last year has been sentenced to jail.
Robert Frank Doezema, 43, was arrested Sept. 23 after he called 9-1-1 and made what police called “various threats, not all very coherent.” They alleged that Doezema claimed to be on the ceiling of the 9-1-1 and that he killed a woman, among other things. Police located him in Otsego and learned he had the children, ages 8 and 12 at the time, in his car and he led them on a chase through Otsego which ended when they punctured his tires with stop sticks on 106th Avenue near the US-131 expressway.
Before sentencing Monday, July 22, Allegan County Judge Kevin Cronin said he took Doezema’s behavior of running from the police very seriously.
“You were willing to terrorize other people, including the officers, by your demonstration of behavior that says ‘I don’t give a damn about my own life and I don’t give a damn about other people’s.” Cronin said. “Or even the kids in the car with you.
“I’ve got to consider things like that. There’s got to be substantial punishment for things like that.”
Doezema told the court he’d been an alcoholic and had combined booze with sleeping pills on that day, resulting in his not remembering anything that happened. Cronin accepted a no contest plea to driving drunk for that reason.
“I’ve been going through a horrible time for the last few years,” Doezema said. “I got divorced; it was a very rough divorce.
“I moved back to Otsego and it’s not been a good environment for me.”
He said he’d also been injured at work and had a lot of pain problems and he’d become an alcoholic, but had been in denial about this fact.
“I read the police report and I know I’d feel the same as you or anyone else reading this,” Doezema said. “I think I had to hit my rock bottom.”
His attorney, Rick Hunter of Allegan, presented the court with a long list of documentation of the treatment his client had received and number of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings he’d attended since his arrest.
“My client realized how serious this was and he’s taken steps to deal with it,” Hunter said.
He argued his client should receive a sentence that would allow him to keep his employment.
Allegan County prosecutor Fred Anderson argued for a significant sentence.
“This guy was going through sleepy Otsego, Michigan at 65 miles per hour in a 25 miles per hour zone,” Anderson said. “...This is not just about Mr. Doezema; it’s about protecting the public from him.”
Cronin listed the crimes he saw on Doezema’s record, including two domestic violence (2007 and 2011), an operating while intoxicated in 2010, a disturbing the peace in 2010 and a drunk driving in 2012.
The judge said the guidelines in the case called for a sentence of 12 to 24 months.
“I like what you’re doing in rehab, but if we let everyone get into a treatment program and not exact a punishment, you can’t really call us a criminal court,” Cronin said.
He sentenced Doezema to 90 days in jail, with credit for three days served, and three years on probation.
He said he couldn’t put Doezema on work release for a felony and he declined to give him weekends in jail because it would take so long to finish his sentence.
Doezema objected, “What kind of citizen do you expect me to be in six months?...I’ve seen you sentence way worse people than me in here.”
Cronin responded, “Well the middle of the guidelines is a prison sentence.”
Contact Dan Pepper at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (269) 673-5534 or (269) 685-9571.