A Coldwater man lashed out in court Monday blaming the justice system and the increased use of meth in Branch County for his own problems with the highly addictive drug. Circuit Judge Bill O’Grady would have none of it and sent Bart Petriken away for seven to twenty years in prison.
Last July, Petriken, who was arrested and accused of driving a rolling meth lab in Girard Township, was sentenced but before he learned his fate, he told Judge O’Grady he was a person with a job, a home, and a family, a productive member of society, but then was sucked in and used up and allowed to be the scapegoat the people the court allowed to continue to plague the community with meth.
Last month, a jury took only a half an hour to find Petriken guilty of possession of a lab and possession of hazardous materials used to manufacture methamphetamine. O’Grady told Petriken it was about time he took responsibility for his own actions and said he could have been looking at a lot more time behind bars because based upon his history the prosecutor could have charged him as a life offender with a life in prison sentence a possibility due to Petriken’s past four felonies and now, with two more convictions.
Petriken also is facing another trial next month in connection with his arrest during which a Branch County Sheriff’s Deputy was injured While apprehending Petriken.