REED CITY — For nearly 10 minutes Friday, the parents of Timmy Rizor and his sister gave emotional impact statements at the sentencing of Creed Samuel Watson, who was driving the car that crashed and killed their 17-year-old son and brother last November.
Watson was sentenced to five months in jail with three days credited for a no contest plea to attempted operating while intoxicated causing death for his connection with an incident on Nov. 23, 2019, in Sherman Township. 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 were dismissed.
He also was given three years of probation and ordered to pay fines. Watson, if allowed by the jail, would be eligible for school or work release, but it was not clear if that would happen due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Watson also was ordered to complete 25 hours of community service, which could include Watson telling his story, talking the dangers and consequences of drinking and driving. Watson was taken into custody after his sentencing and taken to the Osceola County Jail.
Before issuing the sentencing, Osceola County Circuit Court Judge Scott Hill-Kennedy said he had thought about this case, the loss of life, and the impact it had on Timmy Rizor's family. He said that could have persuaded him to use the power of society and his job to make an example of Watson.
Hill-Kennedy said he also thought about Watson. While there needed to be serious consequences for the loss of life, Watson needs to not only remember what happened but also be a good member of society to honor that he has life, and his friend does not.
Hill-Kennedy said he needed to find the balance between the wants of Timmy Rizor's family but also not destroy Watson's life.
"Two lives lost doesn't bring Timmy back," Hill-Kennedy said.
The felony, which shows someone lost their life, is not a record which can be expunged under current state law and will remain in Watson's record for the rest of his life, Hill-Kennedy said.
During the victim impact statements given by parents Timothy and Sheila Rizor, and sister Siera Rizor, the sadness, anger, and questions that occurred during the past year all came out regarding the death of the 17-year-old.
"I wish you would all have seen what we had to go through that night when you brought (Timmy Rizor) him to us. We put him by the fireplace to get warm because he was freezing," Sheila Rizor said between sobs. "I wanted him to get better. I kept on telling Timmy, 'Please, just please throw up. You will feel so much better.' If I would have known he had been in an accident like that — If they would have, should have told us— I would have called 911 immediately."
She continued saying she kept telling her son it would be OK, but they quickly found it wasn't because the 17-year-old had quit breathing.
Tim Rizor said all the family ever wanted, and still wants, is the truth about what happened that night and a heartfelt apology. He said both were denied. He talked about his son's friendship with both Watson and Brock Nelson that started at a very young age. He said that friendship ended up with the three being like brothers.
It was that close relationship that made it hard for the elder Rizor to understand why they didn't help his son.
"Hours passed. Cover up was their only concern. Not their friend lying there in the ditch," the grieving father said. "He didn't even have a chance to fight for his life, and our son was taken from us. Out of fear or self-protection, I'm not sure, they made light of the situation and said he was really drunk."
During his comments, he remembered the night of Nov. 23, 2019, and asking why his son was so "beat up," but they were fine. He said the response he got was lies.
Siera Rizor read a prepared statement via Zoom and said she thought for a year about what she would say to her brother's friend if she ever got the chance. She told Watson, who was in the 49th Circuit Courtroom Friday, she had anger and hurt built up toward him, and Brock Nelson and Rikki Ann-Renee Saez.
Nelson was sentenced last month for his part in the incident 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.
Saez was sentenced in July to a six month delay of sentence after she pleaded no contest to accessary after the fact to a felony. She was orginally charged with two counts of accessory after the fact to a felony for her connection with the Nov. 23 incident.
"You knew he wasn't awake, and he didn't get out of the car himself. Why didn't you call for help? If you had just called 911 he would still be here," Siera Rizor said. "Instead, he bled out internally while you took your sweet time waiting for Rikki (Ann-Renee Saez) to come help cover stuff up and then doing whatever else you guys did. We still don't have the truth from any of you. At this point, I'm not sure we ever will."
Before he was sentenced, Watson read a prepared statement. The first thing he did was say he was sorry to the entire Rizor family. He then told his friend that he was sorry.
"I never, in a million years, wanted any of this to happen. I think of Timmy every day and regret that night every day. I was so scared after the accident and thought I was doing the best to help and protect Timmy," Watson said. "Timmy was one of my best friends. I have known him my entire life, and your family has helped me so much over the years."
Watson also said in his statement that his friend's family will always mean a lot to him, and he will never forget everything Timmy did for him.
"I can't imagine the pain I have caused your family and will forever live with it. I had no intention of causing this tragedy. I want to help people know the dangers of drunk driving with my story and prevent them from happening again. No one deserves this, especially Timmy," Watson said. "I truly hope your family can forgive me after all this and I hope Timmy will forgive me. I will do my very best to keep Timmy's memory alive every day."
In a November 2019 press release issued by the Osceola County 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. on Nov. 23, 2019. 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 17-year-old Timmy Rizor. Lifesaving measures were attempted, but Rizor died before arriving at the hospital, according to police.