HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (AP) — The father of a severely autistic 16-year-old Michigan boy who drowned in a family pool has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.
Prosecutors accused Tim Koets of failing to supervise his son whose hands were bound while he stood in the pool in March 2019. Koets said he had left for work at a college and was assured that others were keeping an eye on Sam at their home near Hudsonville.
Koets pleaded guilty Tuesday to involuntary manslaughter and fourth-degree child abuse, a misdemeanor.
“It sends a strong signal to our community that all children matter, all children have worth, life is important,” Ottawa County assistant prosecutor Paul Kraus said.
Defense attorney David Kallman said he’ll ask the judge to sentence Koets to 19 months in prison, the low end of the guidelines. The next court hearing is Jan. 18.
“They were under a lot of stress in their family. It led to some unfortunate choices,” Kallman said Wednesday. “My client didn’t set out to have his son drown.”
Koets has said he woke his wife before leaving for work that day so she could watch Sam. Michelle Koets, who had worked an overnight shift as a registered nurse, confirmed that he did alert her before heading out.
Tim Koets was aware that the teenager had walked into the icy pool based on text messages from a daughter, police said.
Authorities said the parents sometimes restrained the boy’s arms to prevent him from harming himself or others.
“I just can’t believe it. I mean, 16 years, we cared for that boy, and to have the prosecutor treat me this way is very, very hurtful to me,” Tim Koets told “Inside Edition” last January.
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