William Thomas Travis

Kalamazoo man sentenced 32 years for 2019 crime spree

By: 
Ryan Lewis, editor

The Kalamazoo man who stole five vehicles in Allegan County during a string of break-ins and police chases last summer now faces at least 32 years in prison.

William Thomas Travis, 23, was arrested in June 2019 after he was shot by Allegan County Sheriff’s Office deputies bringing the series of crimes that began locally near Martin to an end outside a home in Manlius Township. Travis broke into that home and robbed the owners at gunpoint.

Travis was sentenced May 29 to a minimum 30 years prison in the most serious of six sentences, a charge of assault with intent to murder, related to shooting at a homeowner who had discovered Travis attempting to steal his vehicle. A two-year felony firearm charge will be served in addition to that term.

The remaining sentences cover a variety of other charges including carjacking, several home invasions, and resisting arrest.

Travis was initially arraigned on 20 felonies, including attempted murder.

Taking the incidents in reverse order, Travis was confronted by police at 4 a.m. after he was headed back inside a home on 128th Avenue after attempting to start the car he was stealing. Deputies shot him; he was armed with a pistol at the time. Earlier that Sunday morning he tried to steal a car from a home on 56th Street and he and the homeowner shot at each other.

Before that, Travis crashed a stolen Corvette on M-40/89 and then used a stolen AR-15 rifle, both from Hopkins, to carjack a passing driver. He also stole a car from Martin the night before and then fled police early Sunday morning when they tried to pull him over.

While no victims were physically injured, Allegan County Prosecutor Myrene Koch said many were impacted by Travis’ crimes.

“The victims in (one) case have trouble sleeping at night,” she said. “They wake up seeing ‘someone shooting at me.’ The other victim in that case says, ‘Every time I see someone who passes by our house, I wonder if that is the next shooter.”

Allegan County Public Defender Chad Catalino said Travis had been immediately remorseful.

“I was at the hospital, and immediately upon meeting him, his first statement was that he was very sorry,” he said.

Travis said, “Look I know what I’ve done is terrible. And I accept full responsibility for that. When I do get to prison, I plan on making a big change,” including obtaining his GED and taking college courses. “I’m very sorry for what I did. I’ll never make these stupid mistakes again.”

Allegan County Circuit Court Judge Roberts Kengis said he hoped that turned out to be the case. He also noted that he had taken into account—though avoided detailing in open court—Travis’ upbringing.

Kengis said, “What also struck me was that you had many opportunities to stop this crime spree. That really drives home the point with me, that if I’m lenient, what’s the effect of you getting out after a short period of time?”

He also downplayed the hallucinations Travis claimed to have experienced during the crimes, as a forensic health investigation concluded they were primarily related to drug use.

“The court can’t give you a break because you were on meth,” Kengis said, “and you were given opportunities to stay away from meth.

“All in all, these sentences will allow you to get out before you’re old; you’d be approximately my age when you first become eligible for parole. Hopefully you will change your life.”

Contact Ryan Lewis at Ryan.Lewis.Editor@gmail.com or (269) 673-5534.

To read the entire story, pick up a copy of the June 11, 2020, issue of The Allegan County News or subscribe to the e-edition.

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