Ryan Philipps sentenced to 3 years Thursday

Ryan Philipps is handcuffed in a Menominee courtroom Thursday after being sentenced to three years for an assault with intent to do great bodily harm and reckless driving case.

EagleHerald Staff Writer

MENOMINEE—Ryan Joseph Philipps, 25, son of Menominee attorney Randall Philipps, was sentenced to three years and two months in confinement Thursday more than two years after the sport-utility vehicle he was driving seriously injured Devon Barley, 25, of Menominee Township.

Defense attorney Trenton Stupak said he would appeal the sentence. “We’re obviously disappointed,” he said. “We had requested a county jail sentence. A commitment to the Michigan Department of Corrections was not what we were looking for.”

Philipps was convicted in a September jury trial of assault with intent to do bodily harm less than murder, punishable by up to 10 years, and of reckless driving causing serious impairment, punishable by five years. The judge considered several factors in determining the length of the sentence, including the fact Philipps had no prior record.

Philipps’ sentence includes three years and two months in the Michigan Department of Corrections with two days of time served and one year in Menominee County jail to be served concurrently, with two days of time served.

Barley walked out of the courtroom laughing. He told a reporter before the sentencing, “I was really hoping he would have gotten the attempted murder charge, but I’m still happy he’s not going to be walking away free.”

Barley, an athlete who previously had two surgeries for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, showed no obvious signs of the injuries the attorneys in the courtroom agreed he suffered from the August 2019 accident.

Barley said during testimony before Judge John Economopolous his injuries will be with him for the rest of his life. He’s been going to physical therapy for two years, but his ankle continues to be problematic, he said. He is easily fatigued and his knee is always sore. “I’ve had nightmares about this criminal act,” he said.

The judge also allowed Philipps to speak. “I fell short on a personal promise I made a long time ago,” to stand up for others, he said, in explaining why he hoped to pursue law school. “We’ve seen what happens when something becomes so one-sided. I have never, ever disregarded or ignored the fact that Devon Barley is completely damaged from something that happened. As he said, something that happened in a split-second.”

Assistant State Attorney Robert Hayes was the prosecuting attorney and refused to provide a comment to the media. Instead he referred a reporter to his public relations department.

According to media reports from the August 2019 incident, witnesses at the time told Menominee County sheriff’s deputies Philipps drove onto the front lawn at the County Road 577 home where Barley resided about 4:15 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2, 2019. The sports-utility vehicle Philipps was driving appeared to intentionally strike and run over Barley after the two had argued over $140, according to the 2019 media reports. Both men were age 23 at the time.

Stupak said several witnesses testified during the court proceedings that Barley jumped on the hood of the SUV, and Phillips’ drove over the lawn to get away from a dangerous situation.

“Our position was Mr. Philipps did not intend to cause the result that was caused. That’s what was most disappointing, that they didn’t find this was an accident,” Stupak said.

“The testimony was clear Barley went up to Philipps’ window and there was an altercation while Ryan was in the driver’s seat. That led to Mr. Philipps’ driving on the lawn, and Barley somehow got struck (by the vehicle). We felt it was clear Barley got himself on the hood,” he said.

Philipps was originally charged with four felony counts, including assault with intent to murder, punishable with a maximum life sentence, assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder or by strangulation, punishable with a maximum of 10 years in prison or $5,000, assault with a dangerous weapon, punishable with a maximum sentence of four years in prison and a fine of $2,000, and reckless driving causing serious impairment of a body function, punishable with a maximum sentence of four years and $2,000, according to the Menominee County Prosecuting Attorney’s office.

Menominee County prosecuting attorney Jeffrey Rogg said last fall he recused himself from the case, as did the two judges who typically hear circuit court cases in Menominee. “I disqualified myself. The two judges here in our circuit disqualified themselves because they employ Menominee attorney Randall Philipps as part of the public defenders contract,” Rogg said Wednesday. “I disqualified myself because I work with Mr. Philipps literally every day of the week. It wouldn’t pass the smell test.”

As a result, the case was heard in front of Judge Economopoulos of Escanaba. He serves in the 47th Circuit Court.