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Baraga man gets prison term for assault

Court outburst during sentencing

July 19, 2012
By GARRETT NEESE - DMG writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

L'ANSE - A Baraga man was sentenced to 23 months to 10 years in prison for his role in a 2011 break-in of a man's apartment in which he repeatedly stomped on the resident's head.

Douglas Garver, 33, pleaded no contest last month to assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, a 10-year felony. Five other charges, including the life felony of attempted murder, were dismissed in a plea deal.

Early on the morning of May 22, 2011, Garver pulled his victim from bed, threw him to the ground and leapt up and down on his head, Prosecutor Joseph O'Leary said in June. After one of the people in the apartment threw his co-conspirator Daniel Nieskes out, Nieskes kicked the door back in. The same person later knocked Garver in the head unconscious. Nieskes then took Garver to a waiting vehicle.

Article Photos

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Eric Beaudoin, far left, shouts at Douglas Garver, far right, during Garver’s sentencing in Baraga County Circuit Court Wednesday. Garver received 23 months to 10 years in prison stemming from his role in a 2011 break-in of Beaudoin’s apartment.

Nieskes was sentenced to two-and-a-half years to seven-and-a-half years in prison for third-degree home invasion last month.

The 23 months was the highest minimum Garver could serve under state guidelines.

"I know I can't change the past, but I can learn from my mistakes, and move forward with my life," Garver said. "I'd like to tell the victims I'm sorry, and I hope you're able to forgive me for what's happened. I just ask for some leniency."

Derek Swajanen, Garver's attorney, argued for a lower sentence than Nieskes, pointing to his status as a follower in the case and his previous non-violent history. He also brought up Garver's volunteer work with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and St. Vincent de Paul.

As he did in Nieskes' sentencing, O'Leary acknowledged the alleged root of the crime - retrieving money stolen from a drug deal - but emphasized the toll on the children who were in the apartment.

"They had nothing to do with anything, and just were exposed to a brutal, vicious attack that came out of nowhere," he said.

Also returning from Nieskes' sentencing was Eric Beaudoin, a victim in the attack. He had a similarly blistering condemnation for Garver.

"You picked the wrong night, tough guy," he said. "You found out you weren't a tough guy. None of you are tough guys. You're punks, you're drug dealers, you're liars, you're thieves, you're pieces of garbage. ... This is my third anniversary. It's the greatest anniversary present I could have had."

O'Leary read a statement from Beaudoin's fiancee, Krystal Anderson, whose daughter has had recurring nightmares since the incident.

"If Doug is sentenced to county jail, it would be another outright victimization of my family. He deserves life without parole. ... He was screaming, 'Kill them all,'" O'Leary read.

Arthur Cote, who Garver assaulted, urged an appropriate sentence.

"Regardless of my actions, there were no needs for the actions Mr. Garver took," said Cote, who said he has subsequently been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Garver received credit for 52 days served.



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