Court denies Belding man’s appeal

By Ryan Jeltema • Last Updated 1:49 pm on Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chester Bodman

BELDING — A Belding man won’t get a new trial after a wild night of crime in 2009 involving a head-on accident and sexual assault.
The Michigan Court of Appeals issued a ruling last week that upholds the conviction against Chester Raymond Bodman.
He was involved in a head-on accident on Palmer Road in Orleans Township on Nov. 19, 2009. Jody Lee Herrmann of Belding sustained serious injuries in the crash after Bodman, who was driving on a suspended license, crossed the center line of the roadway.
Bodman fled the scene before police and rescue workers arrived. Police believe he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time.
Bodman sought treatment for his injuries from an ex-girlfriend along the Silk City Nature Trail in Belding later that night. He beat up and raped his ex-girlfriend when she tried to leave.
She testified in 8th Judicial Circuit Court in Ionia that Bodman told her he would be going back to prison anyway so that would be the last time they could have sex together.
After a jury found him guilty, Judge Suzanne Hoseth Kreeger sentenced Bodman to 27 to 60 years in prison for charges related to the rape and up to 25 years in prison for charges related to the accident. Both sentences are being served at the same time.
Bodman appealed his conviction on three grounds:
• He claimed there should have been separate trials for the accident charges and rape charges.
The appeals judge panel ruled Kreeger properly allowed the cases to be consolidated into a single trial because they resulted from a series of connected acts. The appeals judges panel said Bodman wouldn’t have contacted his ex-girlfriend if he hadn’t been involved in the car accident.
• He claimed there was no proof that he raped his ex-girlfriend, only that he had committed a lesser sexual assault.
The appeals judges ruled the prosecution introduced enough forensic evidence and witness testimony that Bodman had committed a rape.
• He claimed the court erred by indicating a 27- to 60-year prison sentence.
The appeals judges noted Kreeger already fixed the discrepancy.

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