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Teen gets jail, probation for hitting friend with car

Becky Vargo • Nov 14, 2017 at 11:00 AM

A 17-year-old Fennville girl will spend almost three months in jail for running down her friend in an apartment complex parking lot on May 29.

Marie Louise Sims will also be on probation for three years prior to and after the start of her jail sentence.

On Monday, Ottawa County Circuit Judge Jon Hulsing ordered Sims to serve 90 days in jail on a charge of reckless driving causing serious impairment. He gave her credit for two days served, and ordered her to start her jail sentence on June 4, 2018, just after graduation from high school.

Sims was scheduled to go to trial in October for that charge and another more serious charge of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder. The maximum penalty on that charge is up to 10 years in prison.

Two days before her Oct. 4 trial date, Sims entered a guilty plea to the lesser charge. The assault charge was then dismissed and Sims was released on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond.

Prior to the sentencing on Monday, the victim and her mother asked for Sims to be given the maximum sentence possible, which would have been five years in prison.

The victim of the hit-and-drag crash said she has scars on her face, leg and “up and down my back.” She said she has trust issues, is paranoid and has haunting nightmares. The 16-year-old Holland girl also said she spent several months recovering from the incident following an argument at a party.

“I wasn’t able to enjoy my summer,” the girl told Hulsing.

The girl noted that while she was recovering, Sims was free to enjoy her summer.

She also said that Sims was writing negative things on her social media posts.

“She is known as someone who picks fights. She has no remorse,” the girl told the judge.

The victim’s mother cried as she told the judge how hard it is to believe that someone her daughter had befriended could turn against her in such a horrific way. She described how her daughter begged her to let Sims stay with them and how her daughter gave Sims food and clothing.

The mother said that after Sims hit her daughter with the car, backed over her and dragged her, she left the area and never called for help.

“Instead, she bragged to people about what she had done,” the mother said.

“She left (my daughter) laying in blood, moaning,” the victim’s mother said. “If she could do this to a friend, what is Marie capable of doing to someone who is a stranger?”

The woman then shared pictures of her daughter’s injuries with the judge.

Hulsing, in turn, called Sims to the front of the courtroom to study the pictures, as well. The judge said he wanted Sims to understand the consequences of her split-second decision and the massive injuries that decision caused.

Defense attorney Anna White told the court that her client has been extremely emotional and remorseful, but has been unable to show it. She noted the teen has been in counseling and is doing better.

Hulsing said sentencing such a young person is a challenge, because there needs to be a concrete sanction, yet he needs to recognize the age of the defendant. He noted that while she may deserve the harsh sanctions, that could cause more problems with public safety down the road. The judge said allowing her to finish her education and get counseling is a better benefit to society.

The victim’s hospital bills were more than $560,000, and Hulsing said Sims would never be able to pay that kind of restitution.

He also ordered Sims to complete anger management classes.

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