A 25-year-old court case made it to the circuit court docket Tuesday for a show-cause hearing for unpaid restitution in the amount of $11,903.69.
The hearing was scheduled for Edwin H. Clark III — his second show-cause hearing, according to a register of actions with the 1995 case — in an effort to have Clark pay on the restitution from the case.
Current Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola said that old cases that remain open — in this case because of the large amount of money owed — are sometimes brought before the court to clear them up, hopefully for good.
Clark was arrested by troopers from the Manistee Post of the Michigan State Police following an altercation at Driftwood Village on June 21, 1995. The altercation was between Clark and Richard Simmons, then of East Lake. Clark was charged with assault with intent to commit murder and assault with a dangerous weapon. He was also lodged on a parole violation at the time.
At the time of the assault, the Daily News reported that two people had come into the post that morning and reported that they had witnessed a stabbing. As troopers investigated the incident, they learned that Simmons went to his ex-wife’s home in Driftwood Village where he ended up in a confrontation with Clark. Simmons was stabbed once in the abdomen.
Before the incident in 1995, Clark was convicted of breaking and entering in Mecosta County and malicious destruction of property and unlawfully fleeing the scene in Manistee County, according to the case file in 51st Circuit Court.
He pleaded guilty in to felonious assault with a dangerous weapon and assault with intent to do great bodily harm, less than murder, in the matter involving Simmons. He was sentenced in September 1995 to 5 to 8 years in prison for the assault with a dangerous weapon charge and 5 to 20 years for assault with intent to do great bodily harm. Because of the prior convictions, he had a habitual offender charge added.
He was also ordered to pay $12,290.46 in restitution.
The case had originally been prosecuted by then-prosecutor Cris VanOosterum. The circuit court judge at the time was Richard Cooper.
In January 2001, Clark filed a post-appeal motion to set aside the conviction while serving a prison sentence at Chippewa Correctional Facility in Kincheloe. He claimed his attorney, John LaDue pressured him into taking a plea agreement when Clark believed he had the potential to claim self defense in the incident. Clark also argued that he was not aware that restitution would be a part of the plea agreement. Cooper, in March 2001, denied those motions.
In the 19 years since, Clark has served two other prison terms and has been in and out of jail in Mason, Muskegon and Manistee counties — including last week in Manistee County Jail. And, according to the case file, Clark has claimed to be unemployed and without an income. He last was given a show-cause hearing in this case in August 2019, and following a bench warrant, paid $10 toward the restitution in September 2019.
Last week, a second show-cause hearing was called for and put on the docket. Clark was not in court for the hearing, and court officials are working with his probation agent to determine where he is.