Plea agreement reached in Otsego stabbing
By Daniel Pepper
An Otsego Township man accused of attempted murder after a January stabbing intends to offer a plea to a lesser charge.
Anthony Ray McFarlane Jr., 22, was arrested in January after the stabbing, which injured an Otsego man. Testimony at the preliminary hearing conflicted over whether McFarlane or the man who was stabbed was the aggressor.
McFarlane was on the court docket for a plea hearing Tuesday, July 23, before Judge Kevin Cronin, but the hearing didn’t take place.
Cronin said the hearing had been delayed. As of Friday, July 26, it had not been rescheduled.
McFarlane’s family and other supporters have been campaigning on social media and holding protests outside the Allegan County Courthouse on his behalf. They argue that he acted in self-defense and that he has been severely affected by post-traumatic stress disorder caused by serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.
McFarlane is charged with attempted murder, assault with intent to do great bodily harm and assault with a dangerous weapon.
His attorney, Michael B. Gawecki, said he’d come to a plea agreement with Allegan County prosecutors
“At the time of the plea, he’ll be allowed to plead no contest because of lack of memory,” Gawecki said.
He said his client had a flashback caused by his PTSD during the incident, which meant he couldn’t remember.
The agreement, Gawecki said, involves his client entering the no contest plea to assault with a dangerous weapon; the other charges will be dropped.
Assuming Cronin accepts the plea and the plea agreement, Gawecki said, McFarlane would be transferred to the Ionia County Veteran’s Treatment Court.
Gawecki said that county’s program will handle veterans in trouble with the law from almost anywhere.
“They’ve stepped forward and taken the veteran’s court philosophy, ‘leave no veteran behind,’ to heart,” he said.
If McFarlane completed the program successfully, he’d be left with only a misdemeanor assault conviction on his record, Gawecki said, while also being required to pay restitution to the alleged victim.
The veteran’s court will require intensive monitoring of McFarlane, his attorney said.
“It’s a lot harder than just going to jail, I can tell you that,” Gawecki said. “The point of the program, yes it’s tough, but, at the end when you make it, is a gratification that you can deal with PTSD and be a productive citizen.”
Participants report to a judge every other week, undergo group therapy and counseling, are assigned a veteran mentor and agree to random drug and alcohol testing.
Staff writer Kayla Deneau contributed to this story.
Contact Dan Pepper at email@example.com or at (269) 673-5534 or (269) 685-9571.