Paroled juvenile lifer awaits sentencing following trial.

July 13, 2021

Hansen

Paroled juvenile lifer awaits sentencing following trial.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

LUDINGTON — A jury found Chris Bernard Hansen, 65, of Manistee guilty of fleeing a police officer and reckless driving but dismissed the more serious charges of three felony counts of assault with a dangerous weapon during a recent trial in 51st Circuit Court.

It was the first jury trial in over a year in 51st Circuit Court following a long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The proceedings began at the Stearns Hotel across the street from the courthouse in order to provide more space for jurors and court staff. However, by the second day of the trial, restrictions were lifted, and the venue moved to the courthouse, said defense attorney Tracie McCarn-Dinehart.

Hansen was captured by Mason County sheriff’s deputies following a high-speed chase down Ludington Avenue one year ago during the early morning hours of June 23, 2020. He has been lodged in the Mason County Jail since the incident.

Hansen, who was recently paroled for a second-degree murder conviction, was accused of ramming a vehicle in the Meijer parking lot on US 10 several times before fleeing from police.

Evidence during the trial indicated that Hansen was being chased down by three men in a decommissioned police car, said Dinenart. “They hunted him down in the Meijer parking lot and advanced on him.” The three men are brothers — Nick, Mark and Kyle Glossinger. “They testified that they didn’t know him,” she said.

“They testified that he cut them off.”

During the 911 call from the parking lot, central dispatch advised them not to chase Hansen, but they continued the pursuit, she said.

Hansen was cooperative with police officers once he was out of his vehicle, although officers testified that he did not appear to be in the right frame of mind, the attorney said.

Hansen faced three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon (a vehicle), which is a four-year felony. This is related to the three occupants in the vehicle. “They were claiming he was using the truck as a deadly weapon,” said Dinehart.

The charges he was found guilty of are less serious. Fourth-degree fleeing and eluding a police officer is a two-year felony, and reckless driving is a misdemeanor.

Misdemeanor charges of failure to stop at the scene of a traffic crash and violation of restricted driver’s license were dismissed by 51st Circuit Court Judge Susan K. Sniegowski prior to the jury’s deliberation. “We made a motion for a directed verdict, and the judge ruled in our favor.”

A fourth-offense habitual offender notice elevates the maximum penalty for the fleeing and eluding conviction to 15 years in prison, said Dinehart. Hansen was initially facing serving the rest of his life in prison due to the other charges of which he was ultimately acquitted.

The four-day trial ended after the jury deliberated for approximately two and a half hours.

Hansen must still go before the parole board, she said, to face parole violation sanctions stemming from the incident.

He was initially sentenced to life in prison for a crime that occurred when he was 16 years old. He was tried as an adult and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole Feb. 4, 1980. The offense occurred Aug. 21, 1973 in Saint Clair County, according to Michigan Department of Corrections data.

The United States Supreme Court has since ruled that mandatory sentences of life without parole for juveniles are unconstitutional. This has meant that the more than 360 so-called juvenile lifers in Michigan — the second-highest total in the nation — were eligible for resentencing. Hansen was among those 360 juvenile lifers. After serving 45 years in prison, he was paroled April 25, 2019.

Sentencing for his recent convictions is set for Sept. 7 at 1:30 p.m. Hansen remains lodged in jail on a $50,000/cash bond.

A message to the Mason County Prosecutor’s Office seeking information about the trial was not returned.

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