Christianson found guilty on kidnapping, assault charges

One mother put her head in her hands and cried in sorrow while another mother cried in relief in a Grand Haven courtroom Thursday afternoon.
Becky Vargo
Jan 31, 2014

Kyle Clayton Christianson, 20, bowed his head as Ottawa County Circuit Judge Jon Hulsing pronounced him guilty of unlawful imprisonment, assault by strangulation and felonious assault.

The verdict followed a two and a half-day bench trial.

The Spring Lake man faces up to 15 years in prison when he's sentenced March 3. He was remanded back to the Ottawa County Jail.

The charges stem from an incident when Christianson’s girlfriend, Journey Kopka, 18, was missing with him for a couple of hours on Aug. 27, 2013. She returned to her Grand Haven home that night disheveled and distraught, and telling her parents that “he took me.”

Christianson's family and friends, filling half the courtroom, sat in stunned silence after the verdict.

On the other side, Kopka and her mother cried with relief.

“I can’t believe it’s over,” Kopka said. “I can’t wait to start my life over knowing that I am safe.”

Kopka said although there were "some good parts" to their relationship, Christianson was abusive and controlling.

“I couldn’t leave,” she said.

During the trial's testimony, it was revealed that Kyle Christianson took a video on his cellphone that “shows the defendant exhibiting controlling and manipulative behavior," Hulsing said. In the video, Christianson threatens to harm himself and Kopka can be seen crying in the background.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.



Nice looking belt Kyle

Former Grandhavenite

I can only imagine the reaction of some hard boiled police detective from 100 years ago upon hearing that it'll become a popular trend one day for criminals to film their own crimes with tiny video cameras they carry around with them at all times. Often they'll even be so kind as to distribute a copy to anyone in the world who's interested in seeing it.

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