Man who threw acid on girlfriend sentenced to 30 years
(Editor's note: This story printed in the July 26, 2018, Allegan County News.) A man who destroyed most of his girlfriend’s eyesight by rubbing acid in her face has been sent to prison for 30 years.
Gregory Alan Marsman, 55, pleaded guilty but mentally ill in May to one count of torture.
In a hearing Friday, July 20, in Allegan County Circuit Court, Marsman was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison by Judge Margaret Zuzich Bakker, a sentence above the advisory guidelines in the case.
“Based on the level of injury and the level of pain she experienced and the destruction of her independence,” Bakker said.
The victim, according to medical reports discussed in court, lost her eyesight completely in one eye and has only a little vision left in the other, which she may lose at some point.
The incident happened in March 2016 at the victim’s home on 66th Street in Ganges Township. Marsman was later arrested in Berrien County.
Police reports used at the plea hearing in May said Marsman had lived with the victim and she’d been trying to get him to leave. She came home to find he had an open propane tank next to candles, had trashed the house and attacked her with the acid when she tried to leave. After he attacked her with the acid, the victim crawled to her neighbor’s house for help.
Allegan County chief assistant prosecutor Judith C. Kasson argued for a longer sentence for Marsman.
“I spoke to the victim,” Kasson said. “She’s not present because she’s terrified of the defendant.
“She’s afraid that he’ll get out of prison and come after her.”
During the attack, Kasson said, the victim had the muriatic acid poured on her face and chest. She even swallowed some, the prosecutor said, and Marsman used his thumb to rub the acid into one of her eyes.
After the attack, she said, Marsman stole the victim’s car and left. At one time, she said, he’d said he came back to check on her but that wasn’t true.
“He went back not to check on her, but to get her credit card to buy cigarettes,” Kasson said.
Marsman was arrested at hotel in Berrien County hours after the incident and lab reports showed he’d been drinking alcohol.
She said Marsman said he’d been driven by his belief he was seeing demons to attack the victim, but cast doubt on that explanation by noting Marsman hadn’t attacked anyone else.
“He had no misconduct or aggressive episodes in jail,” Kasson said.
The Michigan Forensic Center personnel who examined Marsman judged that he was competent to stand trial and was criminally responsible for his actions the night of the crime. They found that he had significant mental illness, however, and that led the judge to accept the plea of guilty but mentally ill.
The victim’s life had been very significantly damaged, Kasson said.
“The victim has suffered extremely because of this incident and can’t really take care of herself,” Kasson said. “She can’t drive and she can’t watch TV or read without a magnifying glass.”
She urged Bakker to go above the advisory sentencing guidelines in the case.
“I don’t believe the guidelines account for what he did,” Kasson said.
She asked for a 40 to 60 year sentence.
Attorney Paul Klein of Allegan represented Marsman and said, “I believe Mr. Marsman has a difficult time realizing that it was really him who performed these actions.
“I don’t think there’s a question he was suffering from significant mental illness and long term mental illness in this case.”
Klein said his client felt terrible his actions had caused permanent psychological and physical injuries to the victim.
He said there was no question in his mind mental illness had contributed to the attack and he said Kasson’s argument that Marsman hadn’t had any bad behavior in jail implied that wasn’t the case was wrong.
“He received proper treatment and he responded to that,” Klein said.
He suggested the sentence should fall within the probation department recommendation of 15 to 30 years.
Marsman said he still couldn’t believe what he’d done.
“Never a day goes by that I don’t feel terrible and grieve over the person I injured,” he said.
Before handing down the 30- to 60-year sentence, the judge said, “Just reading the report was sobering, let alone the concept of being the victim of these acts.
“It’s impossible to imagine what the victim is going through and continues to go through.”
“There isn’t a possibility to restore this victim to what she was before this case.”
The judge said she agreed going above the guidelines was justified.
“I believe the prosecutor stated sufficient grounds to go above the guidelines.,” Bakker said.
Marsman was given credit for 156 days served and ordered to pay $1,335 in restitution.
As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to drop charges of first degree home invasion, domestic violence, assault with intent to commit great bodily harm and a fourth habitual offender notice in exchange for the plea.
Contact Dan Pepper at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (269) 673-5534.