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Man sent to prison for assaulting 9-year-old

Also, case appealed to Supreme Court on full day in court

ALPENA — An Alpena man charged with assaulting a 9-year-old child in his care in April was sentenced on Monday to serve 15 to 40 years in state prison.

Scott Wright, 49, pleaded no contest in Alpena’s 26th Circuit Court to the charge of criminal sexual assault against a minor after a child reported that he assaulted her following a presentation about assault in a local school.

A no-contest plea is not an admission of guilt but is treated as such for the purposes of sentencing.

The News does not name victims of sexual assault.

Wright made no statement before his sentencing. Alpena County Assistant Prosecutor Cynthia Muszynski, quoting from a written victim impact statement, stated the defendant had put the victim’s family “through hell.”

The victim is also a survivor, Muszynski said. After the sentencing, the family will be able to move on and continue to heal.

Wright, charged as a repeat offender with a record including assault with intent to murder and felonious discharge of a weapon, will serve a minimum of 15 years in state prison and will be subject to lifetime electronic monitoring upon release.

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An Alpena man headed toward a third jury trial for the same alleged crime will wait until at least February for his next date in court as his precedent-setting case heads to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Joel James was convicted in 2016 of a 1990s criminal sexual assault, after two trials in which juries were deadlocked in regards to at least one count.

In a test of the wording of the state’s statute of limitations, James’s case was sent to the Michigan Court of Appeals, which upheld the local court’s conviction.

The case has now been presented by defense attorney Dan White to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will in coming weeks determine whether it will hear the case from Alpena.

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An Ohio member of the military accosted a woman at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center last summer, according to court records in a case in which the defendant entered a no-contest plea Monday.

Scott Wagner, a military personnel in training with his unit at the CRTC, approached a woman as she sat on a picnic table on the base, repeatedly placing his hand and leg on her thigh although she pushed him away, and despite the order of her friend to stop.

Indicating he doesn’t remember the incident that resulted in a fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct charge, Wagner will make the return from Ohio to Alpena in November for sentencing.

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A spree of thefts from vehicles was slowed by a locked door and a security camera, leading an Alpena man to court Monday.

Christopher Cannon pleaded guilty to attempted home invasion after he was caught on a security camera trying the door of an attached garage at a residence. Cannon stated in court that, had the door not been locked, he would have entered and searched for money or valuables he could steal from the vehicle inside.

A rash of other reports of unlocked cars being entered in the area on the same night is also accredited to Cannon, but he will not be charged with those illegal entries or related thefts as a result of a plea deal with prosecutors.

Cannon is being charged as a habitual offender, having been convicted of felonies in 2016 of home invasion and surveilling an unclothed person.

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A drunken ATV ride starting in a church parking lot ended with a guilty plea Monday for Elliot Betterly, who admitted he was intoxicated when he mounted an offroad vehicle in the parking lot of Freshwater Church in Alpena and drove it home.

Betterly, charged as a habitual offender, has at least six other felonies on his record, including larceny, resisting arrest, assaulting a police officer, and fleeing from police.

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One day could make a substantial difference for 26th Circuit Court defendant Todd Agar.

Agar, who has been charged with sexually assaulting two minor girls between 2004 and 2005, filed a motion to dismiss his case, stating that his right to a speedy trial had been violated.

Agar’s preliminary exam in district court, scheduled at the end of 2018, took place 22 days after charges were filed against him. By law, the exam must take place within 21 days, unless the defendant has waived their right to a speedy trial, which Agar had not.

The exam was scheduled by the court, not by prosecutors, Alpena County Prosecutor Ed Black contended, and the prosecution held the examination “at the first moment they could, based on the court’s schedule.”

Dismissing the case based on Agar’s motion is not a good use of the court’s time, Black said.

“It’s one day,” Black said. “And it requires starting over an entire case. It doesn’t cure anything.”

Judge Michael Mack will review the motion and informed both parties they have 21 days in which to file supplemental information before he renders an opinion.

Agar is scheduled for trial in two weeks.

Julie Riddle can be reached at 989-358-5693, jriddle@thealpenanews.com or on Twitter @jriddleX.