March sentencing set in motorcycle crash case

By: Bria Brown | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published February 6, 2018

 Cody Soucie, left, defense attorney Sal Palombo and Assistant Prosecutor William Dailey stand before 16th Circuit Court Judge Carl Marlinga in court Jan. 30.

Cody Soucie, left, defense attorney Sal Palombo and Assistant Prosecutor William Dailey stand before 16th Circuit Court Judge Carl Marlinga in court Jan. 30.

Photo by Deb Jacques

ROSEVILLE/MOUNT CLEMENS — Motorcycle crash suspect Cody Soucie submitted a no contest plea in 16th Circuit Court in Mount Clemens Jan. 30; he is scheduled to appear before Judge Carl Marlinga for sentencing at 8:30 a.m. March 15. Soucie is charged with one count of operating while intoxicated causing death. 

Police said Soucie, who allegedly was driving a motorcycle while drunk Oct. 14, 2016, hit 14-year-old Ryan Mannes, whom police originally thought was playing the video game “Pokémon Go” and who had reportedly entered 11 Mile Road, near Demerick Street, to capture a Pokémon.

Two of Mannes’ friends who were with him the night of the crash testified during a preliminary examination that they were not playing “Pokémon Go” at the time but rather had been “throwing pebbles on the street.”

A no contest plea is an alternative to a guilty or not guilty plea, indicating that Soucie is neither disputing nor admitting to the crime.

Marlinga wanted to make sure defense attorney Sal Palombo understood what his client was pleading to. 

“It has the effects of a conviction just as surely as if the case went to trial; there’s no doubt that this would end in a conviction,” said Marlinga. 

Palombo spoke on behalf of Soucie, explaining why they went this route. 

“The reason, specifically, for the no contest plea would be continuing possibility of civil liability and the fact that he was involved in the accident — he has a limited memory of the incident,” said Palombo. 

Marlinga accepted the no contest plea, but still made further comments about it. 

“This is not some halfway in between not guilty and a guilty — this is a plea which basically says that if the case were to go to trial, ‘I would offer no evidence, I would offer no argument; I would not contest it in any way,’ which is where the name comes from. Rather than have the party of witnesses sit around for two to three hours … it is permissible to cut the proceeding short in order to simply say, ‘no contest,’” said Marlinga. 

Under Michigan law, one count of operating while intoxicated causing death, according to Marlinga, is a 15-year felony, with a possible fine of $2,500 to $10,000 and a requirement for rehabilitative programs. 

Before scheduling a sentencing date, Assistant Prosecutor William Dailey asked if the date could be before Feb. 28, as a request from Mannes’ family. 

“I have talked to the family, and regarding sentencing it has been requested of me if there is any possible way the court could sentence the defendant prior to Feb. 28,” said Dailey. 

Marlinga said he would accomodate it, but Palombo didn’t agree.  

“I need time to do the kind of job he needs me to do in order to present to court with the kind of information it needs to be presented with,” said Palombo. “So I’m asking rather than before (Feb. 28) somewhat after,” said Palombo. 

“The defendant’s decision to plead no contest has not only spared a lot of other difficult testimony, it’s also saved significant time. … Therefore, if we don’t do it before (Feb. 28), when is the best date after?” Marlinga asked. 

After discussion, the March 15 date was accepted by Palombo and Dailey.