Where is the justice in Clare County?

June 13, 2014

Dear Editor,

On April 29, 2012 at approximately 9:00 a.m. Charles Waltman pulled into my sister’s driveway in Harrison, where my 4 year-old daughter, 13 month, 13 day-old son, 7 year-old niece, and 10 year-old nephew were playing on the swing. My husband was in the garage. The swing sits by the driveway. The driveway is a big circular driveway, where usually people pull in the first entrance (where the kids were not playing). After moments of speaking to the children, Charles went to pull away and ran my son over – and killed him instantly! I was not out there. He was tested for alcohol and blew a 0.067 and three hours later his blood alcohol level was even higher at 0.09, according to the police report.

6-13-14 LTE BABY ONE YEAR P17Prosecutor Michelle Ambrozaitis took approximately seven months to gather evidence to prosecute him for OWI [Operating While Intoxicated] causing death. Originally she told us he could get up to 36 months in prison with this charge, a minimum of 1 year in county jail, as Charles Waltman had no previous criminal record.

Approximately four months later when she told me it (the charge) was going to be attempted manslaughter but not vehicular because he needed to keep his CDL license, I told her that was unacceptable! My son was killed by him by his vehicle! Michelle said it wasn’t up to me, and that it didn’t matter what I wanted that she wanted a “conviction.” Now it would be manslaughter not OWI because they didn’t want to take it to trial and risk not being able to prove with all the forensics that they took 7 months gathering and investigating and then arresting him for an OWI. I, on the other hand, felt differently, due to all the other circumstances surrounding it. He was negligent; when he pulled into the driveway full of kids with alcohol in his system.

Michelle was constantly rude and condescending to me and misled me. She had no compassion! She didn’t return phone calls claiming they were short staffed. She made comments to me in e-mails, such as that I gave her my consent. I NEVER gave consent. My consent meant nothing anyway. Also, as she kept reminding me, even in sentencing, she stood up and made the remark, “His punishment will never be enough to make up for the death of the little boy”. Her e-mails indicated “However we have fashioned a resolution that provides accountability and punishment — Attempted Manslaughter — that ensures a felony conviction on his record”!

Well that didn’t happen because on April 21, almost 2 years after my son’s death; several postponements later, I appeared in court for something like the 4th pretrial and the defense lawyer needed more time after turning down the last plea three months prior, to check with the Secretary of State to see if he would lose his CDL, according to the Chief Prosecuting Attorney handling the case that day. I was told on April 23 it would be pick of the jury if they didn’t accept the plea of Attempted Manslaughter.

My heart dropped when they came out of chambers and the Assistant Prosecutor accepted the defense attorney plea of Assault with a Dangerous Weapon! At that moment I wanted to stand up and object! I was told later by the Assistant Prosecutor that was handling the case that day, that he would lose his CDL, which is not the case. I also tried contacting her several times to ask her why and how that happened, that he was negligent & does not fit his actions, she said “we cannot prosecute him for negligence”. Wouldn’t you call that negligent homicide?

Where is the justice? Charles Waltman did not belong pulling up early in the morning after drinking the night before until 3 a.m., especially invading the kids’ space!

My child is dead because of his negligence and he is doing 30 days in the county jail and 5 years of probation. Michelle Ambrozaitis and the assistant prosecutor go on with their life. I wonder if they have kids and if it happened to theirs if the case would have turned out differently.

I will tell you my take on it…she worked with defense attorney so Charles could continue working so they could get their fees and fines as Charles paid them $1,800 the day of sentencing. Also, maybe she thinks she will be reelected based on her convictions. Or maybe she just doesn’t know what she is doing! I was never informed and nor did I give my consent for the plea of assault with a deadly weapon! There was no justice in that sentencing.

Michelle was right there is no punishment that he could be given that would be enough, but 30 days is a joke! Really, who is she working for the people or the defendant?

That day as our family walked out of court, it sprinkled down rain. They were the tears of my son Kyle John-Edward Counts.


Wendy Counts

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