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Barton City Man Pleads Guilty to Domestic Violence and Witness Tampering

LANSING - The Michigan Department of Attorney General has obtained a guilty plea and prison time in an Alcona County case despite the defendant attempting to interfere with charges against him, Attorney General Dana Nessel announced today. 

Richard Coutts Jr., 43, will serve prison time as a habitual offender by pleading guilty to: 

  • domestic violence, his third offense, resulting in a minimum of four years and maximum of 15 years in prison; 
  • assault with a dangerous weapon, resulting in a minimum of four years and maximum of 15 years in prison; 
  • witness tampering, resulting in a minimum of four and maximum of 10 years in prison; 
  • malicious use of telecommunications, resulting in credit for time serviced, which is approximately four months; and  

obstructing and resisting a police officer, resulting in a minimum of two and maximum of 15 years in prison. 

Additional charges including unlawful imprisonment and domestic violence were dropped as part of the plea agreement.  

Late last year, Coutts allegedly held a woman at knifepoint for multiple hours and threatened to kill her while admittedly high on meth, cocaine and heroin. A second and similar incident happened shortly after the new year. 

He was arrested Jan. 5 on those allegations in Oscoda Township. Once transported to the Alcona County Jail, Coutts became violent toward correction officers and law enforcement officers.  

The defendant attempted to break the window of the jail tank with the handcuffs as they were being taken off, resisted being placed in a restraint chair after attempting to break the window, and spit on an officer once restrained. 

For the following two months, Coutts, despite being told to have no contact with the victim, called, texted and wrote letters from jail-including nearly 1,200 messages sent between Jan. 5 and Feb. 9 through the Alcona County Jail's texting system. 

"This plea agreement shows the dedicated work being done by the Department to uphold the law and achieve justice," Nessel said.  

Coutts is scheduled for sentencing June 8 at 9:30 a.m. The sentences will run concurrent. 

This project was supported in part by Grant No. WE AX 0030 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.