Hartnett enters guilty plea

Evart man slated to stand trial for child abuse reaches new agreement with prosecutors

REED CITY — After his first plea agreement was withdrawn earlier this year, an Evart man reached a new deal with prosecutors to avoid standing trial on allegations of child abuse.

On Monday, Marc Steven Hartnett, 21, appeared in Osceola County’s 49th Circuit Court for a plea hearing. As part of a plea deal with the Osceola County Prosecutor’s Office, Hartnett entered a guilty plea to one count of first-degree child abuse and one count of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder. In exchange for his plea, one count of torture and one count of assault with intent to murder.

The deal spells out an agreed-upon sentence of between 13 and 40 years in prison. If convicted by a jury of the first-degree child abuse charge, Hartnett faced a maximum penalty of life in prison. 

In April, Hartnett reached a similar plea agreement, instead pleading no contest to the first-degree child abuse charge and assault to do great bodily harm less than murder charge. In exchange for his plea, the two additional charges were to be dismissed by prosecutors. 

The first plea deal still called for a 40-year maximum sentence, just as the one currently in place. However, that initial plea agreement called for a minimum sentence of between 81 and 135 months to be determined by the judge at sentencing. 

Originally scheduled to be sentenced in May after entering the no contest pleas, Hartnett ultimately withdrew his pleas. 

A four-day trial was set to begin next week, nearly a year after Hartnett was arrested. The trial was scheduled to start on Tuesday, Sept. 20, but is no longer on the court’s calendar after the new plea was entered. 

Hartnett’s charges stem from critical injuries sustained by a 19-month-old boy allegedly at the hands of Hartnett. According to court documents, the abuse happened on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, in Evart.

Troopers from the Michigan State Police Mount Pleasant Post Reed City detachment were dispatched shortly after midnight on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, to investigate the incident. After leaving Hartnett to care for the boy, the child’s mother had returned home and found him unresponsive with severe injuries.

The child was transported by ambulance to Spectrum Health Reed City Hospital and then airlifted to DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids. The child underwent surgery for life-threatening injuries.

After the investigation, Hartnett, was arrested. He remains lodged at the Osceola County Jail.

He is scheduled to be sentenced at 9:15 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 7, in Osceola County’s 49th Circuit Court.