Robbery suspect’s alleged use of pellet gun results in dismissal of 5 charges

November 5, 2015


By Allison Scarbrough. Contributing Editor.

LUDINGTON — Five charges were dismissed against the 41-year-old Muskegon man accused of committing the armed robbery at the Branch Grocery in eastern Mason County last December, because he allegedly used a pellet gun with the orange tip removed, stated Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola.

Mark Anthony Miller was arraigned in 79th District Court, Oct. 21, on six felony charges: one count of armed robbery; three counts of felony firearms; and two counts of felonious assault. The armed robbery charge, which is punishable by up to life in prison, still stands, but the other five counts have been dismissed.

Miller, who is lodged in the Muskegon County Jail on four robbery convictions in the Muskegon area, was transported to Mason County to face his charges. The five counts could not be dismissed until he was formally charged.

“I learned that the weapon used (pellet gun with orange tip taken off) was not a firearm after his arrest in December,” said Spaniola. “As an officer of the court, I was required to dismiss those counts because they could not be proven by law and I could not maintain them in good faith.”

“We prepared the paperwork in January, and the court order of the dismissal was entered at the time of his plea,” Spaniola said. Miller’s dismissal paperwork states that the charges were dismissed, because “the weapon used in this offense does not meet the definition of a firearm.”

“Firearm means a weapon from which a dangerous projectile may be propelled by an explosive or by gas or air,” the prosecutor said. “Firearm does not include a smooth bore rifle or handgun designed and manufactured exclusively for propelling by a spring, or by gas or air, BBs not exceeding .177 caliber.”

This definition was changed Aug. 10, 2015 but was in effect at the time of the commission of the offense, Spaniola said.


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