Timothy Koets, a Grand Rapids Community College computer professor of computer graphics, and Michelle Koets, his wife, appeared in the Hudsonville District Court on Friday, Jan. 10.
They were both arraigned on charges involving obtaining Methylphenidate, which is sold under the brand name Ritalin. They allegedly got it through prescriptions that were made out to their autistic son, Samuel Koets, 16, who died in March, before the time of the purchase(s).
On Friday Timothy also had the second half of his preliminary hearing on the first four charges related to his son’s drowning in the family’s backyard pool.
The new charges against Timothy Koets include: obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and false reporting – each punishable by up to four years and/or $30,000 fine; and Health Care fraud, up to felony four years or $50,000Meanwhile, Michelle Koets was charged with obtaining by false representation, which carries a maximum sentence of 90 days or $500
Both parties have pleaded not-guilty to all charges.
The misdemeanor charge Timothy Koets was facing already was described by the Judge Judy Mulder, as “a willful failure to not supply food or shelter.” That charge will be tried in Ottawa County Circuit Court along with an involuntary manslaughter charge. The remaining three charges were involuntary manslaughter, second degree child abuse, and second degree child abuse in the presence of another child.
On Jan. 10, the judge spoke on why she decided to keep one of the remaining two charges and drop the other.
“My job is to decide whether or not a reasonable jury might decide that a reckless act inflicted severe bodily harm,” Mulder said.
“Samuel was left on a porch unattended…” Mulder said. “There was some testimony that he (Timothy) woke her (Michelle). There was also some competing testimony that he texted his daughter during that time that he thought she might have been sleeping. I’m paraphrasing, however, but that’s how the texts read. There was also testimony that Samuel was functioning at a level of an 18-month old, and that he was attracted to water… a reasonable jury could look at those facts and decide that is a reckless act that caused the child severe bodily harm.”
That means Timothy Koets will stand trial in circuit court for second degree child abuse.
However, one charge was dropped when the judge ruled that the abuse theoretically did not actually happen in front of the other children and that the children merely saw what happened after the alleged abuse.
“The ‘reckless’ act of leaving the child on the porch was not witnessed by any of the other children.” Mulder said. “His daughter was not present when the son was left out on the porch…It’s very unfortunate that his daughter had to find her brother like that, but the act of child abuse was not done in the presence of another child.”
A personal recognizance bond was set at $2,500 for both parents. There will be a pretrial hearing of the new charges on Jan. 21 and the preliminary hearing will be Jan. 30.