Accused cop shooter rejects plea, trial scheduled

September 18, 2013

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LUDINGTON — Lowell Fetters, the man accused of shooting a Ludington police officer, has rejected a plea offer by the prosecutor. He is now scheduled to stand trial on Dec. 4.

Fetters has been charged with 32 counts stemming from a June 2012 incident that included the shooting of Ludington Police Sgt. David Maltbie. During that incident, four other area law enforcement officers were shot at: Ludington officers Jason Smith and Aaron Sailor and Mason County sheriff deputies Derrek Wilson and Oscar Davila.

Fetters appeared in 51st Circuit Court. The purpose of the appearance was first, to determine his competency to stand trial and second, to hold a final conference.

Sixteen law enforcement officers attended the hearing to show their support. Fetters’ family members were also present.

In October 2012 an expert hired by the court determined Fetters was competent to stand trial. His defense attorney at the time, Annette Smedley (who is now a Muskegon County circuit court judge), requested the defense hire its own expert. That expert finally made his final report within the past two weeks. That report also found Fetters competent to stand trial.

Following the competency hearing, Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola made a plea offer to Fetters.

The plea offer would have dismissed 24 of the counts, leaving the following: Assault to commit murder, punishable by life in prison; felony firearms, malicious destruction of police property and four counts of felonious assault on a police officer.

Spaniola was willing to reduce the first charge’s punishment from life to 25 years in prison. The remainder of the counts, with the exception of felony firearms, would have run consecutive with the first. The firearms charge would have been punishable by two years in jail.
Fetters said he rejected the plea and wanted to stand trial.

Ludington Police Chief Mark Barnett said he and his department are frustrated with how long the process has taken to reach a trial date.

“Four-hundred and forty-nine days seems to be too long to wait to ask a jury to render a verdict,” Barnett said. “I’ve been frustrated that the victims in this crime have not been able to tell their side of the story. I know they are looking forward to their day in court.”

Barnett said he thinks the community needs closure in this incident, especially since another police office has been shot (and killed) in the county.

“The people of this community will not tolerate the shooting of anyone,” Barnett said. “As a police department, we are not going to allow this to happen again.”

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