Man who instigated fight in Sidney sentenced to jail time

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 10:56 am on Friday, August 03, 2012

Christopher Finney

STANTON — A local man received a jail sentence Thursday after starting a fight and brandishing a knife and a gun in downtown Sidney.

Christopher Finney Jr., 39, of Sidney Township, was charged with assault with a handgun, assault with a knife and using a firearm in the commission of a felony, in addition to outstanding warrants he had for his arrest. He eventually pleaded no contest to assault with a dangerous weapon.

Montcalm County Sheriff’s Sgt. Andrew Dozema, Deputy Benjamin Fryc and Deputy Charles Mahar responded to the corner of Derby and Sidney roads at 2:16 a.m. June 3.

Finney first got into an altercation at the Sidney Tavern with another man. Finney brandished a 3-inch folding knife — one of two knives he had on his person. He then went to his nearby home and returned brandishing a .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol.

The origin of the altercation is unknown, but “alcohol was involved,” said Sheriff’s Lt. Steve Russell. “He was just antagonizing a whole bunch of people.”

When Finney laid down the gun and started to physically fight, someone grabbed the gun. Finney was then beaten up by an unknown amount of people. The fight was over when officers arrived.

Finney walked into 8th Judicial Circuit Court with the support of a cane Thursday. Defense attorney David Mierendorf said Finney was “severely injured in the beating.” He said Finney also suffers from various injuries he sustained at work and in vehicle accidents.

“I’m sorry, your honor,” Finney told Judge David Hoort. “I never intended to hurt anyone that night.”

Montcalm County Prosecutor Andrea Krause noted the incident could have easily gotten out of hand. Hoort agreed.

“This could have ended up much worse,” the judge said. “You could have gone to prison.”

Mierendorf asked that Finney be allowed to serve home arrest and wear a tether instead of going to jail, where he will not be allowed to take his pain medications, including hydrocodone and medical marijuana. The judge expressed concern about Finney possibly becoming addicted to his pain meds.

Hoort sentenced Finney to 90 days in jail and two years probation. Hoort said may reconsider the jail sentence depending on how Finney handles pain without his medication.

Hoort also ordered Finney not to consume alcohol while on probation, noting that the mixture of alcohol and pain meds likely contributed to Finney’s actions in the Sidney fight.

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