Case Snapshot
Case ID: 20074
Classification: Bestiality
Animal: dog (pit-bull)
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Attorneys/Judges
Judge(s): Timothy G. Hicks


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Friday, Apr 20, 2012

County: Muskegon

Disposition: Convicted
Case Images: 3 files available

Defendant/Suspect: Kurtis Peter Peterson

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

Kurtis Peter Peterson has pleaded no contest to "crime against nature" for having sex with two dogs in his Muskegon home.

Peterson, 36, entered the plea Friday, March 8, 2013. "The abominable and detestable crime against nature," also known as sodomy or bestiality, is ordinarily a maximum 15-year felony.

The potential maximum sentence in Peterson's case is life in prison because he is convicted as a fourth-time habitual offender.

His minimum sentence will be much less than that. Muskegon County 14th Circuit Judge Timothy G. Hicks committed to cap Peterson's minimum term at no more than one year in state prison and a sentence to county jail or probation is possible.

Hicks scheduled sentencing for April 22.

Shifting his weight rapidly and constantly from foot to foot, Peterson stood before the judge just before noon Friday and pleaded no contest. That's not an admission of guilt but results in conviction and is treated as a guilty plea at sentencing. It's allowed in certain cases, such as when a defendant claims lack of memory of the alleged crime.

That's the case here, according to Peterson's court-appointed attorney, Fred J. Lesica. Lesica said Peterson has what the lawyer called "mental retardation" and takes psychiatric medication that makes him "fidgety."

Mental health experts at the Michigan Forensic Center earlier evaluated Peterson and determined he was legally sane at the time of the incidents and was competent to stand trial, according to attorneys for both sides.

Peterson appeared to understand and answered the judge's yes-or-no questions leading up to his no contest plea.

The first incident happened in April 2012 at Peterson's apartment in the 200 block of Amity Avenue. A witness testified at Peterson's preliminary hearing that she and a friend saw him kneeling naked behind his blue heeler on his bed, having sex with the dog. She said she called 911, but no arrest was made at that time.

The witness said later, in early June, she walked in on a naked Peterson seemingly having sex with a white pit bull on the floor of his living room. Again she called police, and his arrest followed within days.

According to the court record, Peterson has prior convictions of attempted fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in 1996 in Allegan County and, in 2010, carrying a concealed weapon and false report of a felony in Muskegon County.


Case Updates

A Muskegon County judge went above state sentencing guidelines to order Kurtis Peter Peterson to state prison for between one and 15 years for repeatedly having sex with dogs.

State guidelines would have meant a sentence to the Muskegon County Jail plus probation, with the jail sentence certain to end almost immediately because Peterson has already spent 321 days in jail.

A sentence to the Michigan Department of Corrections -- even though Peterson will be eligible for his first parole consideration soon -- makes it likelier he'll be kept in a controlled setting, which 14th Circuit Judge Timothy G. Hicks considers essential.

"Community supervision would be a struggle at this time," Hicks said. He said presentence investigators believe Peterson carries a high risk of reoffending if left unsupervised. "I fear for what he might do in the community," the judge said.

Hicks said Peterson has "pretty low cognitive ability" and Peterson's public defender, Belinda Barbier, said her client has serious mental health issues that need to be addressed with long-term counseling that he has not been receiving.

Throughout the sentencing, Peterson swayed continuously, shifting his weight from foot to foot as he did at his plea last month. He said little in court, just answering the judge's questions.

Peterson, 37, pleaded no contest March 8 to "the abominable and detestable crime against nature," also known as sodomy or bestiality. He was charged as a fourth-time habitual offender.

Hicks cited two reasons for exceeding state guidelines. One is that those guidelines don't take into account having an animal as the victim of a sex crime, keeping the guidelines lower than they would otherwise be. Another, Hicks said, is that Peterson has not adjusted well to life in jail.

"There have been many complaints of unwanted and inappropriate touching," the judge said, leading to his conclusion that Peterson poses a high risk of reoffending.

Despite his mental health issues, experts at the Michigan Center for Forensic Psychiatry earlier evaluated Peterson and determined he was legally sane at the time of the incidents and was competent to stand trial, according to attorneys for both sides.

The first reported incident happened in April 2012 at Peterson's apartment in the 200 block of Amity Avenue. A witness testified at Peterson's preliminary hearing that she and a friend saw him kneeling naked behind his blue heeler on his bed, having sex with the dog. She said she called 911, but no arrest was made at that time.

The witness said later, in early June, she walked in on a naked Peterson seemingly having sex with a white pit bull on the floor of his living room. Again she called police and his arrest followed within days.

According to the court record, Peterson has prior convictions of attempted fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in 1996 in Allegan County and, in 2010, carrying a concealed weapon and false report of a felony in Muskegon County.
Source: mLive - April 22, 2013
Update posted on Apr 21, 2014 - 4:20PM 

References

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