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Holland man sentenced for violent crimes

Audra Gamble/The Holland Sentinel • Dec 4, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Holland resident Tramell Jackson, 31, will spend the next six years behind bars following multiple violent crimes.

Ottawa County Circuit Judge Karen Miedema sentenced Jackson on Monday to at least 76 months in state prison for the assault of a prison employee, resisting arrest, aggravated domestic violence, and assault or battery.

Jackson was arrested Feb. 9, 2017, after assaulting his then-girlfriend at the Columbia One Stop party store in Holland. The girlfriend was working at the store when Jackson came in and began punching her. A customer in the store confronted Jackson, who then charged toward the customer.

The customer, who has a concealed carry pistol license, shot Jackson twice in the abdomen. Authorities ruled the shooting as self-defense.

Once Jackson received medical care, he was taken to the Ottawa County Jail, and then later released on bond. While he was out of jail, Jackson went back to the girlfriend's residence and assaulted her again, landing himself back in jail.

Later, while on his way back to jail from court, Jackson kicked and damaged a jail transport van, ending in a conviction for malicious destruction of police property.

Most recently, Jackson added new felony charges to his record when he punched a jail guard. The guard, Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Michael VanderLaan, had a split lip and needed 11 stitches.

In court, Jackson apologized for his behavior, citing multiple mental health diagnoses and an inability to control his actions when he isn't on the proper medication.

“I’m sorry for my actions and I accept responsibility for the decisions I made on Feb. 9," he said in court. "I was in and out of special-education classes. I was placed on psych meds to control my behavior. In my mid-20s, my issues worsened when I started hearing voices of my deceased brother and other beings. Upon coming to jail, the voices became too unbearable. I was prescribed meds to help with schizophrenia, multiple personality disorder, attention deficit and bipolar disorder."

Jackson said the medication was "working beautifully," until he had an allergic reaction to one of them, at which point he was taken off all the medication. He said in court he asked jail staff, sergeants and jail administrators, and wrote to the judge, to get back on medication. He wasn't on medication when he assaulted the prison guard.

While in jail, Jackson said his father died and he was not allowed to go to the funeral and pay his respects. That happened a few days before he punched VanderLaan, but Jackson acknowledged he is still responsible for his decisions.

“When I’m off medication, I often feel confused and easily agitated and make unsound decisions, not to mention the voices also returned," Jackson said. "I can’t sleep at night. It makes you feel like a prisoner in your own body.”

Along with VanderLaan, several other deputies were also injured in the confrontation, causing a safety issue at the jail.

"(Jackson) was waiting to be released from free time in a corridor and he was pacing," said Jay Tubergen, the prosecuting attorney. "Once the deputies responded, Tramell stepped through the door and sucker-punched the deputy. It required a full lockdown of the jail and 10 or more deputies to respond."

Because Jackson is a fourth-offense habitual offender, he was facing up to life in prison for both the assault of a prison employee and the domestic violence charges. Miedema said Jackson has a lengthy criminal history, including six felonies and 14 misdemeanors, along with several prior stays in jail.

"From about March 2017 to when he was finally incarcerated, (Jackson) was a one-man wrecking crew," Tubergen said, advocating for a lengthy prison sentence. "His previous criminal history includes a high number of assaultive crimes. He's not able to conform to society and is a danger to society if he is released."

Miedema agreed, sentencing Jackson to 76-180 months for the assault of a prison employee and 48-180 months for the domestic violence charge.

"Your behavior on both these files is extremely aggressive," the judge told Jackson. "There's a serious injury to Deputy VanderLaan, and your behavior was very disruptive and disrespectful. It created a disturbance at the jail, a dangerous situation."

Jackson received 590 days of credit already served in jail for the domestic violence charge and 305 days of credit for the assault of a prison employee. He must also pay state costs and crime victim assessment fees. These prison sentences will be served at the same time.

“Good luck to you," Miedema said as Jackson left the courtroom.

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