Nieman sentenced to maximum 15 years for accident causing death

REED CITY  — A Chase man will spend at least two years in prison for a 2012 accident which caused the death of an Evart woman.

Nathan Edward Nieman was sentenced Friday to two to 15 years in prison for operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing death, which he plead guilty to in July. 

On May 3, 2012, Nieman was driving on U.S. 10 near 100th Avenue in Osceola Township. He lost control of his vehicle and crossed the center line, striking a vehicle driven by Darcy Lynn Gray, 24, of Evart. Gray died from injuries sustained in the accident.

According to court documents, Nieman was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the accident.

Before Circuit Court Judge Scott Hill-Kennedy sentenced him, Nieman’s defense attorney, Dennis DuVall, stated that Nieman is not a chronic drug user and the pre-sentencing report indicates that.

“He was on prescription medication for his pain and the marijuana usage he admitted to me was for pain as well, so it wasn’t recreational use,” DuVall said.

Nieman also addressed the court before Hill-Kennedy handed down the sentence.

“I really have tried to turn my life around,” he said. “I do feel absolutely terrible about what happened. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about it. I pray every night for her and her family. I have a daughter now and I’m trying to do my best to take care of her, work and keep my nose clean.”

Hill-Kennedy decided on a prison sentence between two to 15 years because of the weight of Gray’s life being lost.

“Darcy Lynn Gray is gone and that will never change and that’s the most awful thing possible. Mr. Nieman, what you did caused that, and life will never be the same for her family or for you,” he said.

Hill-Kennedy could have delivered a harsher punishment, he said, but from studying the facts of the case, he didn’t have any indication the marijuana in Nieman’s system contributed to the accident. In addition, the police report stated Nieman wasn’t speeding and there was no reason to believe Nieman was acting recklessly.

“You were negligent in the sense you lost control of your vehicle and caused something that’s irreparable and you have to face the consequences for that, but I don’t see the disregard or recklessness that we see in cases that would justify you serving even more time and suffering a greater consequence,” Hill-Kennedy said.

Nieman will be credited for one day served in jail. He also was ordered to pay $11,139.40 in restitution to an unnamed family member of Gray.

DuVall asked about the option of Nieman completing a boot camp offered by the Michigan Department of Corrections, but Hill-Kennedy was not prepared to rule on that at sentencing. He would however consider it if he later received a recommendation from MDOC that Nieman was a suitable candidate for the program.