CASSOPOLIS — On Dec. 16, an 87-year-old Dowagiac area woman was startled to find someone entering her home through her bathroom window.
The intruder was Becky Dehring, 32, of Niles, who had been in the victim’s home before as a guest. But as the elderly homeowner stated Friday in Cass County Circuit Court, she later discovered Dehring would take Vicodin she’d steal from the homeowner during her frequent sips of water.
As for the Dec. 16 home invasion, the victim said she was shocked someone she trusted would commit such a crime.
“When I saw you in my window, I’m surprised I didn’t have a heart attack,’’ she told Dehring.
Judge Michael Dodge said Dehring has admitted it was her intent when she climbed through the window to steal more narcotics. Also, the judge said, she had attempted eight days earlier to cash a forged check for $50 on the victim’s bank account.
Dehring’s sentencing guidelines specified a term of 19- to 38-months, which normally would signal a prison term. But Dodge pointed out Dehring, who’s been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, had only a minor blemish on her record prior to her crimes in December. Based on the recommendation in a pre-sentence report, he agreed to deviate from the guidelines and ordered Dehring to three years of probation, with the first year to be served in the county jail.
After the first 240 days, she’ll enter the Kalamazoo Probation Enhancement Program for drug-addiction treatment. Cass Prosecutor Victor Fitz said those issues began when Dehring experimented with marijuana.
“She (Dehring) needs to get clean or get prison,’’ he said.
Also on Friday, Jeri Rickey, 39, of Cassopolis, was sentenced to two years of probation, with the first 180 days to be served in the county jail, after she pleaded guilty to a drunken-driving incident in which she registered a .39 blood-alcohol level. The reading was nearly five times the legal limit and is one of the highest ever seen in the county, according to Fitz and Dodge.
The judge disagreed with Rickey’s claim in her pre-sentence report that she doesn’t have a drinking problem, arguing that “can’t be true.’’ Still, Rickey told Dodge she hasn’t had a drink in six months, a claim the judge said he doubted, and that she’d “only slipped twice’’ over the last two years.
Rickey received two years of probation, with the first 180 days to be served in the county jail. She’ll serve the ensuing 120 days on a tether program.
Staff writer Lou Mumford: