Otsego man pleads to one of series of Watson break-ins

Ryan Lewis, Editor

After months of delay, an Otsego man pleaded to several crimes connected to a series of home invasions in Watson Township in August 2016.

Kenneth Earl Lapham, 35, admitted to breaking into his former mother-in-law’s home on 116th Avenue, a home he’d lived in for 10 years. He said he stole a Ruger 0.22 pistol, and then drove away the Chevrolet Impala parked there.

“I took the keys and took the car,” he said.

He was charged with eight crimes between that and other break-ins the same day.

Circuit Court Judge Kevin Cronin accepted Lapham’s plea Monday, Oct. 2.

He pleaded guilty to one count of home invasion, one count of unlawfully driving away a motor vehicle and one count of a felon in possession of a weapon.

Lapham was not allowed to possess firearms due to his 2009 conviction for operating a methamphetamine laboratory.

All three charges were entered as a habitual offender, second offense, reduced from a fourth offense. That designation increases by 50 percent the maximum sentence provided in sentencing guidelines.

His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Dec. 4.

The home invasion charge normally comes with a maximum sentence of 20 years prison and/or $5,000 fine. The other two charges come with maximum five-year sentences, but could end up being entered as consecutive terms due to their connection to the home invasion.

Prosecutors, as part of a plea agreement, dropped a different count of home invasion, another count of driving away a motor vehicle, two felony firearms charges and two counts for stealing firearms.

Lapham had been scheduled to plea in July, but, after conferring with his attorney, called it off. It was then set for August, but that was changed due to a scheduling conflict.

Lapham was arrested along with his then-girlfriend at the end of the spree; she pleaded guilty and was sentenced in the case earlier this year.

Lapham remains in the Allegan County jail. He is also awaiting a jury trial beginning Dec. 13 for two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, felonious assault and aggravated domestic violence.

Contact Ryan Lewis at rmlewis@allegannews.com or (269) 673-5534.


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