Fetters to enter plea tonight; family wants leniency

November 27, 2013
Lowell Fetters

Lowell Fetters

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief.

LUDINGTON — Lowell Fetters is expected to accept a plea agreement tonight in 51st Circuit Court.

The following exclusive interview was prepared to be posted this weekend in preparation of the scheduled trial of Lowell Fetters, the man accused of shooting Ludington Police Sgt. David Maltbie. Fetters is now scheduled to enter a plea agreement tonight with the Mason County Prosecutor’s Office.

Lowell Fetters, 65, was scheduled to go on trial beginning Dec. 4. He is charged with 32 various counts stemming from a June 27, 2012 incident at his home, 707 N. Delia St., that included the shooting of Ludington Police Sgt. David Maltbie.

MCP sat down with Lowell’s son, Gerry, to talk about his dad, the events of the day and Lowell’s fate.

Records from Mason-Oceana 911 indicate that an anonymous caller, using a cell phone, called 911 at 6:49 p.m. The call was for a domestic dispute at the Fetters residence, a place that the police had been to multiple times for various domestic complaints. At 6:50 p.m. two Ludington police officers, Aaron Sailor and Jason Smith, arrived on scene within three minutes.

At that time, according to police documents, the two officers reported that a man at the house had a gun. Sgt. Maltbie was on the southeast side of town at that time and proceeding to the scene. Capt. Mike Harrie was at the Ludington police station on South Harrison Street and Mason County sheriff’s Sgt. Oscar Davila and Dept. Derrek Wilson were at the Sheriff’s Office, 302 N. Delia, four blocks away. Maltibie, Harie, Davilla and Wilson all proceeded to the scene once they hear that the subject had a gun.

Maltbie parked on Tinkham Avenue, a few hundred feet from the Fetters house. His patrol car camera was running but did not capture the events, because of where the car was parked. However audio initially recorded a shot being fired, a pause, then four rapid shots following, according to transcripts.

During that time Maltbie was shot in the shoulder, near his neck, and Fetters was also shot. His fellow officers quickly tended to him then Maltbie walked himself back to his patrol vehicle, getting out of the line of fire.

Gerry Fetters, 43, is the oldest son of Lowell and Kaye Fetters. He says that his parents have always had a “love-hate” relationship.

“Anyone who knows my parents knows that they don’t talk to each other unless it is at the top of their lungs. The original call came from a neighbor. They weren’t arguing. My dad was upset that she wasn’t taking her medication, he’s hot tempered. He was also upset about their truck. There’s no doubt about that but there wasn’t a domestic. She wasn’t a hostage.”

Gerry says he disputes one of the charges, domestic violence, which he is being charged as a repeat offender because of prior record on the related charges stemming from an incident many years ago between Gerry’s brother Joel and their father.

“For them to bring out the second offense for domestic just isn’t right. The first offense they are referring to happened many years ago. My dad wasn’t perfect by any means. My brother was a hard head and the two of them got into a scuffle. The charges got dropped. For them to say that it is second offense is misleading and it makes my dad look like he’s a terrible guy.”

Gerry doesn’t deny that his dad is guilty of many of the offenses that took place that day. It’s the potential punishment that he and his siblings take issue with. If convicted, Fetters could get life in prison.

A psychiatric evaluation stated that Lowell has symptoms common with post traumatic stress disorder.

Lowell Fetters was drafted into the Army to serve in the Vietnam war in 1967, a year after graduating from high school. He shipped out to Vietnam in 1968, where he worked with a heavy artillery battery as its mechanic. Though a mechanic, Lowell was an experienced hunter from Mason County, Michigan. For that reason, he often served as a security officer.

Lowell has said that he witnessed the death of other soldiers and possibly killed numerous enemy troops. He came back a decorated soldier and never really discussed the war with his family.

“The war screwed with his head,” Gerry says. “We never really understood this, and he never has been really diagnosed, until this incident happened and he has seen psychiatric professionals. We could never get him to go to a doctor before.

“Our biggest issue is that the prosecutor wants to push for the maximum sentence. Knowing what we all know now, what the doctor said, I feel the prosecutor is pushing it too far. My dad needs psychiatric help not prison.”

Gerry says that his dad has always had scuffles with Ludington Police Department through the years.

“The older officers, who are all now retired, had a better understanding of dealing with my dad. Times have changed, the laws have changed. When you push these older guys who are a little looney — and I’m not saying he isn’t guilty — but there is no way things should have escalated the way they did.

“Police were at my parents house several times in the weeks before this happened. He told them if they came back they were going to have issues. I just think when my dad walked out with the gun that certain individuals jumped the gun because he had a gun. I have no proof of this and there is nothing on the tapes. There is some audio.”

Gerry says he doesn’t think his dad’s gun was initially loaded, when officers first arrived.

“I’m 99.9 percent sure that when he walked out originally the gun wasn’t loaded. That’s why he walked back into the house, to get the shell.”

Gerry says that his mother being sick escalated Lowell’s issues.

“Doctors have said that Dad needs to be in a routine. My mother had a stroke and taking care of her became stressful for him. They had been arguing over the fact that she wasn’t taking her medications. He loves her, I know he does. After she had her stroke I sat in the hospital with him and he was balling his eyes out.”

Lowell Fetters has been in the Mason County Jail since June 27, 2012, waiting on his fate. Gerry says that Lowell and Kay have not been allowed to see each other. Kaye has been diagnosed with stage 3 stomach cancer, 100% terminal, he says. He says he’s been trying to get Lowell’s court-appointed defense attorney, David Glancy, to work out visitations, but they have not had success.

“They might say they hate each other but if she dies it ain’t going to be pretty,” Gerry says, adding that Kay has been subpoenaed to testify during the trial but has been asked to be removed due to her health. “The doctor has said that he doesn’t think it’s a good idea. If it happens it’s got to be restricted. I don’t want to accelerate anything with my mother. My time is short with her. She’s been on chemo, radiation and now her gallbladder is acting up.”

Gerry says his mother’s testimony won’t impact the trial.

“We all know how it’s going to go. We can’t afford to fight this.”

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