Hillsdale Man Pleads to Lesser Charges
If you were to ask Richard Joseph Willard what he had been doing on January 15th, drunk, with a gun and a number of illegal drugs in his car, he will tell you an interesting story. But the prosecution isn’t buying any of it. And so rather than face trial and the possibility of decades in prison, Willard has taken a plea offer that dismisses more than half of his charges.
Hillsdale police pulled Willard over for a civil infraction, but once the officer was beside his vehicle and speaking to him, the game changed. Willard had been to a couple of bars that evening with friends, and was just heading home when he was pulled over. In addition to the alcohol he had consumed, the arresting officer found a gun, marijuana, and some methamphetamine in Willard’s vehicle.
When asked what he was doing with the gun, Willard told the officer that he had seen a coyote in his yard, so he had put the gun in his truck and driven down the road looking for it. He raises chickens, he explained, which is why a coyote would be such a problem for him. However, he later forgot about the gun, which is why it was still in his vehicle.
The marijuana, he said, was also something he had forgotten about having in his car. And as for the methamphetamine, it was explained in court as being no more than a positive result on a field test kit that came not from meth, but from a substance that was present on one of Willard’s legitimate prescriptions.
The arresting officer administered a Breathalyzer test, and the result was .09, placing Willard just one point above Michigan’s legal limit for drunk drivers.
Luckily for Willard, he and his attorney were able to come to an agreement about a plea deal that he was amenable to, before his probable cause hearing. The details were hashed out in court, and Willard formally pled guilty to single counts of possession of a loaded firearm in a vehicle, and possession of marijuana.
The remaining charges, including possession of methamphetamine, felony firearm, possession of a firearm while intoxicated, and operating while intoxicated, were all dismissed. Willard’s next court appearance is his sentencing. It’s set for Monday, March 7th, at 8:30 am.