Guthrie sentenced to 20-50 years in prison

ALPENA — An Alpena man who was found guilty on two counts of criminal sexual conduct-first degree last month was sentenced to 20 to 50 years in prison Wednesday in Alpena County 26th Circuit Court.

Thomas Guthrie, 50, was charged with the crimes committed in 2005. The incident involved a man who was 29 years old at the time of the assault. The man said Guthrie forced him through violence and intimidation into having sex.

He was convicted of CSC third-degree charges in 1993 and was incarcerated on those charges. Guthrie also was sent back to prison in 2005 for a parole violation for providing alcohol to a minor.

Before Judge Michael Mack issued his sentenced the prosecution and defense debated the points in the sentencing guideline recommendation. Although a few points were taken off, it didn’t change the recommendation, which was for 22.5 and 75 years. Mack could have sentenced lower or higher and decided to give Guthrie a slightly lighter sentence. Prosecutor Ed Black asked Mack for a life sentence.

Prior to sentencing, Guthrie read a letter saying his accuser made up the accusations to avoid embarrassment and to frame him. Guthrie said during the trial Black threatened him with a harsher sentence if he took the witness stand and also denied a potential witness who would vouch for Guthrie to testify, which he did. He also accused Black of stirring up sympathy for the hard times the victim had gone through growing up and said the sad stories swayed the jury.

Throughout the proceeding Guthrie maintained his innocence and said the physical contact between the two men was consensual.

“We were intoxicated and took part in what was a stupid decision, but there was no rape,” Guthrie said. “I apologize to my friends and family and I want to say to them this is far from over.”

Defense attorney Bill Pfeifer said Guthrie filled out the necessary paperwork for an appeal.

After hearing Guthrie’s accusations Black hit back. He said the defendant has never admitted his guilt after he was found guilty the first time and continues to blame others for his actions. Black told the court that letting Guthrie off easy would put others in danger when he is released.

“He’s the Boogie Man. This guy is the whole reason we have the phrase ‘stranger danger,'” Black said. “There is no question this guy is a predator. He wants you to think everyone else is wrong and he did everything right. He can’t accept he did any wrong in this and there is no hope this man will change his ways. We asked for life or a number of years in which he will never get out because he doesn’t care.”

Guthrie also said Mack should have recused himself from the case because he took the witness stand during an earlier case involving Guthrie. Mack said on the record that he represented a co-defendant in the old case and needed to take the stand to testify about his client’s sobriety before being questioned about the crime. Mack said his client was drinking and he needed to take the stand and tell the court about his condition.

“My client was going to be interviewed by police and he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” Mack said. “I was called in to testify about his condition and what I testified to did not impact your case. It is all in the court record and you can check it.”

Before the courtroom was cleared, Mack granted a pair of requests for Guthrie. The first is to have a visit with his daughter at the jail before he is sent to prison and the second is to be able to have his medication that overcomes his claustrophobia.

There is no date set for the beginning of the appeal process.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.