Potterville man who abused teens to withdraw his plea?
Even at the last moment, things can change. And that is certainly the case for Shawnn Michell Degner who, on the day he was supposed to be sentenced, found out that the judge intended to impose a higher sentence than had formerly been agreed upon. This put him in a position where he was suddenly entitled to reconsider his plea bargain.
According to police records, Degner and his now ex-wife, Meagan, were responsible for abusing his two children, aged 13 and 15 in their home. The teens were apparently deprived of food, beaten with a leather belt, and tied to their beds at night with velcro straps and ropes.
In February of 2014, the daughter was able to run away and contact CPS, asking for help and intervention. CPS workers arrived at the house and removed the brother from the Degner’s custody, at which point a police investigation began.
The investigation revealed that the alleged abuse was regular, and that both parents participated in it. The testimony of Tara Hall, Meagan Degner’s sister-in-law, was invaluable to the prosecution, as she had witnessed three instances of physical violence between Meagan and the children.
Last month, a jury convicted Meagan Degner on two counts of child abuse in the second degree. But more information has come up since then, and the picture has changed. According to Eaton County Circuit Judge Janice Cunningham, who was scheduled to sentence Shawnn Degner just days ago, said that she has since recalculated his sentencing guidelines in the light of the latest information.
He had pled guilty in January to two counts of second-degree child abuse and a single count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, which would have resulted in him serving 3 to 6 years in prison before becoming eligible for parole. But the Judge’s recalculations increase the prison time.
At the hearing Judge Cunningham informed Shawnn of the changes in his sentencing guidelines and explained that, as a result of the changes, he is entitled to withdraw his plea. He is scheduled to appear again on April 3rd, which is also the day his ex-wife is scheduled for sentencing. That’s when he will need to tell the judge what he has decided to do.