02-02-2017 Beshires sentenced to life for infant death; Mother of infant seeking to withdraw plea; F

Beshires sentenced to life for infant death; Mother of infant seeking to withdraw plea

By Annette Christie

Berrien County Trial Court Judge Arthur Cotter sentenced Brandon Beshires to what was expected for the crime of first-degree murder, life in prison without the possibility of parole.  The reveal of the sentence though did not come before several family members of 8-month-old Carter Donovan and Judge Cotter had an opportunity to address the man who committed that murder.

Beshires pleaded guilty on December 12 to first-degree murder in connection with the February 19, 2016 death of an infant left in his care.  The mother of the child, Autumn Atchley left her child in Beshires’ care while she went to a doctor’s appointment.     Beshires pleaded guilty against the advice of his attorney, Donald Sappanos.

Published reports state that Carter’s aunt read a prepared statement at Beshires’ sentencing noting how hard it has been for the family to heal, including her teenage son.

Carter’s father Sean reportedly reminded Beshires that they had been friends for a long time but described how he had done him wrong and his family wrong, including his son.

Judge Cotter described how in his 30 years of being in the justice system, he has never seen photos of a child’s skull so fractured as that of Carter Donovan.  He reminded Beshires’ that the photos showing what happened to Carter, were because of him and that he was the one responsible for it.

According to published reports, Beshires told the court at the December hearing that he took Carter to the Hot Spot in Coloma while he was watching him.  He took baby Carter into the restroom after he became fussy.  Beshires said that he fell while trying to calm the child.  He then told the court that he put Carter on his shoulder and then he fell backwards.  He said he freaked out and he hit the baby’s head on the floor and that the baby died.

As he was being questioned by Judge Cotter, he said that he slammed him on the floor and that he became angry when the baby would not stop crying. He told the judge according to the published records that he wanted to kill him.  When the judge asked him if he thought about it before he did it and Beshires told him yes.

Records show that under questioning by Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey Taylor, Beshires was asked if he thought about it before he slammed the baby’s head to the floor and Beshires answered yes and also answering yes when asked if he consciously decided to kill him.

At the sentencing Beshires told the court that he was really sorry and that he has thought about this every day since it happened.  He hoped that everyone could have peace.

His attorney said that Beshires pleaded guilty to help to end the suffering to Carter’s family and that he did not want to put his family or the victim’s family through any more grief.

Mother requests plea withdrawal

While Brandon Beshires has pleaded guilty and was being sentenced to life in prison without the possibility for parole for his part in the death of Carter Donovan, the child’s mother is seeking to have her plea withdrawn.

Autumn Atchley, who left her child in the care of Beshires when he died was set to be sentenced also on January 30 but is now seeking to have her plea of no contest withdrawn for her role after the fact.

Earlier in court proceedings Atchley plead no contest to being an accessory after the fact with regard to her son’s death, however, a motion has since been filed to have that plea withdrawn.  Atchley has new legal representation.  The charge she pleads no contest to is a five-year felony.

In questioning after the death of her son, Atchley lied to police about who her baby had been with and who had access to him, and continued lying to them for several hours after the child’s death, according to court records.  During her arraignment appearance in court, she told the court that she was afraid of Beshires and that is why she lied. She said then that she had nothing to hide and that she wanted to testify against Beshires. She did not have to testify against Beshires as he pleaded guilty to the crime.

The motion for the plea withdraw request will be heard on February 6 and could be followed by Atchley’s sentencing if the plea withdraw is denied.

Coloma Police Officer being investigated

WWMT-Channel 3 reports that a Coloma Township Police Officer is being investigated for alleged theft.  The incident(s) being investigated was approximately 10 days ago and was first reported to the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office by the township police department once there was suspicion of wrongdoing.

Michigan State Police First Lt. Detective Chuck Christensen reportedly told WWMT that the Prosecutor’s Office referred the Coloma Township Police Department to them.  They are investigating a possible break-in to the prescription pill drop off box located at Coloma Township Hall.

Once the investigation is complete, they will forward the investigation to the Prosecutor’s Office.

DONATION FOR NEW WATERVLIET COUNTY PARK… Individuals with the North Berrien Community Development Organization presented a check in the amount of $25,000 to the Berrien County Board of Commissioners to be used for the creation of the new Watervliet County Park. Ber-rien County will be developing Phase 1 along the Paw Paw River with a projected completion date in 2018. The presentation was made on Thursday, January 26 at the Berrien County Board of Commissioners meeting. Pictured (from the left): Rick Rasmussen, funds organizer; Chana Kniebes, Community Development Coordinator for North Berrien Community Development; Jon Hinkelman, Board of Commissioners Chairman and District 2 Commissioner; Jim Polashak, Mayor of Coloma City and President of North Berrien Community Development; Mamie Yarbrough, County Commissioner appointed to the Parks & Recreation Commission; Bill Chickering, County Commissioner appointed to the Parks & Recreation Commission; Dave Vollrath, District 1 County Commissioner; and Brian Bailey, Parks Director. The “Friends of Watervliet County Park” led by Rasmussen will continue to raise funds to accompany a $296,000 grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant that Berrien County also received for the creation of the new park. Phase 1 of the park will include a parking area, a barrier free kayak launch, pedestrian bridge to an island in the Paw Paw River, hiking trails on the island, and wildlife viewing decks with fishing opportunities

Fix it or tear it down?

Hartford commissioners  move for structural analysis at 1 East Main

By Jon Bisnett

The January 23 business session of the City Commission took action in the matter of the former Huffman Building by ordering up an engineer to perform a structural analysis of the building. The approved bid of $2,200 from Wightman & Associates “…will provide the commissioners a clear course of action to either formally condemn the building and knock it down or if the property shows merit to be repaired; that buys the owner a bit more time…” said City Manager Yemi Akinwale.


Judy Loomis briefly addressed the commissioners regarding holiday decorating she had performed for the City.

Chris Cowgill spoke on behalf of Wightman & Associates in regard to the ongoing performance issues at the recently updated Waste Water Treatment Plant. Operations are still not within the intended range of specifications.

Commissioner John Burleson was quite relentless in asking repeatedly why it was not working correctly following a million dollar upgrade almost a year ago! Burleson questioned the equipment, plant operations, installation in what appeared to be a search of a scapegoat. He was promptly cautioned by fellow commissioners that it was not appropriate to call out anyone until all the data was in for Wightman to formulate a strategy to bring the UV system within spec.


The joint City/Township meeting for Annual Fire Department Budget Review is 7:00 p.m. February 22 at the fire station.

The Board of Review will be held March 22 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and March 23, 2:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

City Manager’s Report

Upon a return to workshop business City Manager Yemi Akinwale reported on the initial quotes for playground equipment for the newly acquired Ely Park Annex. Once a design is chosen a formal quote and grant application will follow.

Akinwale announced with regret that Larry Anchor has resigned his seat on the Fire Board. The city will honor his years of service with a resolution.

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