Otsego man sentenced to 10 years in state prison for series of crimes

By: 
Daniel Pepper

An Otsego man was sentenced to 10 years in prison for a string of crimes in 2016.
Kenneth Earl Lapham, 35, was sentenced Monday, Jan. 29, in Allegan County Circuit Court by visiting Judge Wesley Nykamp.
Lapham was sentenced in different files for multiple felony charges. He and his then girlfriend broke into three homes in Watson Township, stealing cars, cash, a pair of handguns and food. They were then arrested at Lapham’s home in Otsego. Lapham was also charged with a series of crimes committed against the girlfriend before, during and after the crime spree.
Lapham’s lawyer, Edwin Johnson III, said substance abuse was at the center of the crimes.
“These events came as a result of a four letter word: meth,” Johnson said. “It’s a horribly addictive substance and both he and the victim in this case were using it.
“I think he’s learned his lesson, but meth addiction, as your honor knows, is horrible and affects the brain in ways science doesn’t even fully understand.”
Johnson told the judge five letters written in support of Lapham by people had contact with him while he was in jail, where he’d taken advantage of a number of treatment programs while he was locked up.
Assistant Allegan County prosecutor Myrene Koch said, “It’s clear they had no idea how much violence he perpetrated against the victim in this.”
Johnson later said that people in the jail were well-aware of what Lapham had been charged with.  
Koch said that between the admission’s Lapham made and communications between he and the victim showed that there was more going on than substance abuse.
“The defendant’s behavior goes further than can be explained by substance abuse,” Koch said. “He has a deep-seated need to control the victim, when he can.”
She listed the number of injuries the victim received and pointed to allegations of sexual assault that weren’t pursued in the case. At the plea hearing, Lapham admitted to stabbing the victim while the struggled for a knife, throwing her into a cupboard, kicking her and grabbing her and stopping her from leaving. Koch said he’d admitted to more assaults in an interview with probation officials.
“These admissions and the injuries to the victim suggest that the court should look at the higher level of the guidelines,” Koch said.
She also said the case was outstanding in its brutality.
Johnson pointed out that with regard to the sexual assault allegations the victim had changed her testimony and asked she be allowed to speak at the sentencing hearing. She wasn’t called to speak, however. He also argued that some of victim’s injuries were caused in a car accident that happened in the course of the crime spree.
In that case, Nykamp sentenced Lapham to 40 months to five years in prison for assault with a weapon, 32 months to four years in prison for aggravated domestic violence and nine to 15 years in prison for unlawful imprisonment.
In the second file, Lapham spoke to the court which had not given him the opportunity during the first sentencing.
Lapham said, “First of all since (the victim) is here I’d like to apologize to her.
“No human should be treated the way I treated her. Especially no woman should be treated that way by a man. Especially not someone I professed to love.
“I hope she can find it in her heart to forgive me.”
He also apologized to the home invasion victims, including his former in-laws, and said he no excuses for his actions.
“These events have made me realize things about myself and I’m working to change them.
“I’m turning my life over to the Lord.”
He said he’d chosen to use methamphetamine, opiates and marijuana, so that wasn’t an excuse, and apologized to his family and the victims and their families.
“Most of all, my children,” Lapham said. “They deserve better.”
Koch said one of the victims had written to say he was still in financial trouble due to damage Lapham did to his vehicle after stealing it and crashing it.
She said Lapham’s former in laws had also written to express that he’d violated their trust by robbing them.
Nykamp sentenced Lapham to 10 to 30 years in prison for first degree home invasion as a second habitual offender, 21 to 90 months in prison for unlawful driving away a motor vehicle and 24 to 90 months for possession of a firearm by a felon as a second habitual offender.
Nykamp also ordered $9,908.32 in restitution and gave Lapham credit for 538 days already served.
The sentences can all be served at the same time, due to a sentencing agreement Judge Kevin Cronin agreed to at Lapham’s plea hearing.
In exchange for the guilty pleas, Lapham had multiple felonies, including one count of home invasion, another one of unlawfully driving away a motor vehicle, two counts of felony firearms and two counts of larceny of a firearm dropped as part of a plea agreement.
The then-girlfriend was charged in the case for participating in that string of crimes and entered into an agreement where she could have the charges dropped and not have a criminal record if she successfully completes probation.
Contact Dan Pepper at dpepper@allegannews.com or at (269) 673-5534.

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