Prosecution, defense respond to judge rejecting plea agreement for former Menominee County Sheriff’s Deputy
MENOMINEE, Mich. (WLUC) - The Prosecution and Defense are adjusting to the Menominee County Circuit Court’s decision to deviate from a previously written sentencing agreement, causing Brian Helfert to move toward a jury trial.
Former Menominee County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Helfert entered the Menominee County Circuit Court room Thursday morning to be handed down sentencing.
Helfert is charged with one count of criminal sexual conduct with intent to commit penetration.
During the sentencing Circuit Court Judge Mary Barglind decided the sentencing agreement reached in December, in which Helfert pled “no contest,” did not match the crime.
“The allegations of similarities between the two cases the similarities of grooming, the similarities of the conduct of the defendant I think brought the nature of the case to a whole different level in my eyes,” Barglind said.
The agreement reached on Dec. 14 included ending the current and future trials against Helfert and a sentence of 25 months in jail and five years of probation.
Judge Barglind said after reviewing the case again, she instead decided to sentence Helfert to between 40 months and 5 years in prison. The decision led Helfert to withdraw his plea, which means he is now headed to a jury trial.
“It was not unexpected,” Menominee County Prosecutor Jeffrey Rogg said. “Once we got the presentence information report. the defendant (is) in the circumstance where a recommendation is made and the judge more importantly decides that she is going to honor the presentence recommendation rather than the settlement agreement, then the defendant in Michigan— as distinct from Wisconsin and other states— has the right to withdraw his plea and that’s what happened here.”
Despite the turn of events, Rogg says he stands by his previous decision to approve the plea agreement.
“I made the best decision in my professional judgment that I thought was appropriate at the time I did,” Rogg said. “I thought it was appropriate then and I think it is appropriate now, and the judge, however, decided not to honor it. I deal with reality, and I deal the cards I’m dealt so we have to try the case and that is what we’ll do.”
Defense attorney Trent Stupak says Helfert is ready to head to trial.
“The judge decided that she was not going to follow the plea sentencing agreement,” Stupak said. “So now the matter has been set for trial and Mr. Helfert looks for forward to his day in court and to present the matter to a jury and the opportunity to show that in fact, he’s not guilty of the crimes that have been alleged.”
Helfert’s pretrial conference is June 30 with the trial set to begin on Nov. 27.
Helfert is also scheduled for a pretrial conference on June 6 for a separate case. He is charged in that case with two counts of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree.
Read more about Brian Helfert’s charges here.
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