(COLDWATER) – Sentence has been handed down to a Branch County man for shooting his girlfriend with an air rifle last fall.
According to Branch County Circuit Court officials, 50 year old Richard Stolte was sentenced to 5 to 12 years in prison. He plead guilty in January to charges of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder; felony firearm and possession of a controlled substance.
By entering into the plea agreement, the Branch County Prosecutor’s Office dismissed charges of possession of a weapon by a felon; possession of ammunition by a felon and a third offense of domestic violence.
Michigan State Police say on October 10, 2022 they were called to Stolte’s house on Copeland Road. His girlfriend claims she and Stolte got into an argument at which time he pulled out an air rifle and shot her in the chest.
The woman then ran to a neighbor’s house and called her parents, who arrived and took her to ProMedica Coldwater Regional Hospital. She was later transported to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo where doctors discovered the air pellet pierced her heart, causing her lungs to fill up with blood.
Trooper say Stolte denied the incident even happened and said he had no contact with his girlfriend that day. Stolte gave investigators the name of an alibi witness who later told police he was not with Stolte, and that Stolte admitted to shooting his girlfriend.
Branch County District Court officials say this isn’t the first time the couple have had problems. In December 2018 the two had an argument and Stolte threw a hammer his girlfriend, breaking her jaw and eye socket. Then in February 2019, motorists saw the woman walking along the road with a bloody head and face. She told police Stolte choked her until she passed out then struck her over the head with an object.
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