L'ANSE - A Baraga man was sentenced to two-and-a-half to seven-and-a-half years of prison Thursday for his role in a 2011 home invasion in Baraga County.
Daniel Nieskes, 27, pleaded guilty last month to third-degree home invasion. Other charges, including the life felony of attempted murder, were dropped in the plea agreement. Nieskes received credit for 243 days served.
In statements read by Prosecuting Attorney Joseph O'Leary, one victim, who was also unhappy with the plea agreement, said her daughter has had recurring "nightmares with bad guys coming into her home, coming into her apartment and terrorizing her," O'Leary said. Another victim said she wanted Nieskes to "do his time and leave her alone," O'Leary said.
Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Daniel Nieskes, 27, right, stands with his attorney Nicholas Daavettila Thursday as he is sentenced to prison for his role in a 2011 home invasion in Baraga County.
One of the victims spoke - Eric Beaudoin, whose daughter was also struck in the face during the incident. The plea agreement was "outrageous," he said; in his view, Nieskes should have received 40 to 50 years.
"He came in the house with the intent to kill my wife, kill my kids, and his punk (expletive) knew they were there, because he asked me if they were going to be there all night, and I told him that, four hours before they kicked the door in," he said.
In addition to striking his child, Beaudoin said, Nieskes had told him once he was out of jail he would assault his wife.
"Three years because he's a snitch?" Beaudoin said. "That's outrageous, and it makes a joke out of the entire legal system."
O'Leary thought the plea agreement was proper, but urged Judge Charles Goodman to depart from the sentencing guideline range because of the severity of the incident and give the maximum sentence - three to seven-and-a-half years. The catalyst for the incident - a drug transaction gone wrong, involving a victim who did not make a statement Thursday - doesn't tug at the heartstrings, O'Leary admitted. But the bystanders, including Beaudoin, are more sympathetic, he said, particularly the children: a 6-year-old girl, an 8-week-old boy and a fetus only a few weeks from being born.
"These are children who are completely innocent, your honor," he said. "And they had to be confronted with a brutal, violent attack that came out of nowhere in the middle of the night in their tender years. These are the victims that should bring everybody's sympathies back into this case. That's the reason this case cries out for the maximum."
Nieskes' attorney, Nicholas Daavettila, said Nieskes was "a very bright and intuitive and thoughtful man" with a large amount of untapped potential. He argued for a sentence near the bottom range of the guidelines.
The other crimes that had built up Nieskes' scoring on state guidelines were nonviolent, Daavettila said. Even in the 2011 incident, he said, it was Nieskes' coconspirator, Douglas Garver, whose sentencing guideline range is half that of Nieskes', who committed most of the violence.
"Mr. Nieskes' involvement, and what he's pled to, is coming in the house and engaging in a struggle with Mr. Beaudoin, who promptly ousted him from the premises," he said. "From that point forward, Mr. Nieskes was viewing what was going on in the apartment from outside the apartment."
Nieskes said he would try to make his life better and move forward.
"I'd like to say I'm sorry, but sorry's not going to undo what's been done that night," he said. "There's not a night that goes by that I don't wish I could go back in time and undo what has been done."