LeRoy teen accepts plea for part in deadly crash

Creed Samuel Watson was in his attorney Stephen King\'s office Friday morning to accept a plea in front of 49th Circuit Court Judge Scott Hill-Kennedy. Watson pleaded no contest to an added count of attempted operating while intoxicated causing death for his connection with an incident on Nov. 23, 2019, in Sherman Township.

REED CITY — Nearly a year after the crash that killed a Tustin teen, the LeRoy teen who was driving the vehicle is awaiting sentencing in Osceola County's 49th Circuit Coury.

Creed Samuel Watson pleaded no contest to an added count of attempted operating while intoxicated causing death for his connection with an incident on Nov. 23, 2019, in Sherman Township. Due to restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic, the court proceedings in Judge Scott Hill-Kennedy's courtroom were held via Zoom.

As part of the plea, charges of operating while intoxicated causing death, failure to stop at the scene of a crash causing death, and lying to a police officer will be dismissed at sentencing.

When he is sentenced, Watson faces up to five years in prison and/or fines as high as $10,000, but the two sides also agreed on a jail cap of 0-12 months.

A no contest plea is not an admission of guilt but is treated as one at sentencing. It also permits the court to determine guilt from the review of the police report, which Hill-Kennedy did.

While reviewing the police report, Hill-Kennedy's reading of the report showed an Osceola County Sheriff's Deputy was on scene and found Watson and his mother. The vehicle showed significant damage, according to the report.

After an interaction with Watson, the report said the deputy verified Watson was driving the vehicle and it also verified he told the deputy he was driving too fast. As a result, the deputy cited the teen for driving too fast, Hill-Kennedy read.

The judge said that was the lead up to what turned out to be a much more serious incident. Hill-Kennedy continued looking at the report which he said showed 17-year-old Timothy Rizor was not responsive and transported to the hospital. Hill-Kennedy also read that the report showed that Watson noted he had lied about what happened, which included he had been drinking alcohol.

The report showed Rizor was a passenger in Watson's car and Watson was found to be driving under the influence. A breathalyzer was administered and a blood test confirmed that, according to the report. The wreck was described and Hill-Kennedy read that Rizor was seriously hurt and removed from the vehicle by Creed, Brock Nelson, who also was riding in the vehicle, and Rikki Ann-Renee Saez. Rizor was taken to his home and eventually perished, according to the report Hill-Kennedy read.

While Watson accepted a plea Friday, Nelson also was in court and was sentenced for his part in the incident. Nelson was sentenced under the Michigan Holmes Youthful Trainee Act.

Michigan’s HYTA gives a youthful offender, ages 17-23, a chance to keep a criminal offense, including felonies, off of his or her record. A person who seeks HYTA is required to formally plea guilty to the offense or offenses which are being considered for HYTA status. However, once the court accepts someone on HYTA status, the court does not enter a judgment of conviction and Michigan State Police records become closed to the public view.

As a result, no other information was available regarding the case. Nelson was originally charged last December with accessory after the fact to a felony and felony obstruction of justice for his in connection with the Nov. 23 incident.

In a November press release issued by the sheriff’s office, it said deputies were dispatched to a one-vehicle crash on Mackinaw Trail near 160th Avenue in Sherman Township at 2:05 a.m. Police said the person who reported the incident stated no one was around the vehicle.

Once at the scene, deputies found a tan 2004 Toyota Camry had gone off the road and overturned. Police said deputies also found Watson and his parents removing items from the vehicle, according to the press release.

Police said at 3:17 a.m. deputies and an ambulance was dispatched to a home on 20 Mile Road near 160th Avenue for a report of a teen having medical problems. That teen was Rizor. Lifesaving measures were attempted, but Rizor died before arriving at the hospital, according to police.

Watson is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 23. 

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