video (link is external) -- BAY CITY, MI -- Two biker buds who beat a fellow bar patron for, so they thought, taking a photo of their Outlaws Motorcycle Club apparel have pleaded guilty as charged.
Eric J. Kerkau, 47, and Arthur R. Miller, 33, on Monday, June 18, appeared before Bay County Circuit Judge Harry P. Gill and pleaded guilty to assault with intent to cause great bodily harm less than murder. The charge is a 10-year felony.
The men each faced that charge and no others. They pleaded two days before their trials were to begin. The prosecution agreed both men's sentencing guidelines would range from zero to 17 months.
The prosecution also agreed not to seek habitual offender sentencing enhancement in either man's case. Court records indicate each man has three misdemeanor convictions. The duo's crime occurred just before 1 a.m. on Dec. 27 inside the Whyte Goose Inn, 108 St. in Bay City. Police responded to the bar after a bartender called 911 to report an assault had just occurred. Bay County Central Dispatch relayed to the officers that two members of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club (link is external) had caused a ruckus and had done so earlier in the night at Stables Martini & Cigar Bar, 804 E. Midland St.
Surveillance camera video footage, obtained by MLive via a Freedom of Information Act request, shows 49-year-old Scott M. Peterson standing near the bar. He is arguing with a man police have identified as Miller, who stands opposite him. A woman is between them, apparently trying to quell their dispute. Standing closer to Peterson and slightly behind him is a man police have said is Kerkau.
Miller puts a cigarette in his mouth, dons his coat, and walks out of frame. A few moments later, as Peterson continues speaking with the woman who intervened in his dispute with Miller, Kerkau takes a few steps back, then quickly steps forward and twice punches Peterson in the head. The two begin scuffling as others move in to break them apart.
As they grapple, Miller walks back into frame and yanks Peterson from behind. He knocks him to the ground and repeatedly knees him in the face. He and Kerkau then kick Peterson several times, with Miller stomping him at least twice. Peterson stays on the ground for the rest of the clip.
Peterson testified in a March preliminary examination that the incident left him with injuries to his shoulder, knee, and ribs. He suffered a slightly detached retina in his right eye, which has required two laser surgeries. He also required six staples to mend a wound in the back of his scalp, he said.In that same hearing, bartender Ashley Schwartz said the three men had argued over a belief that Peterson had taken a photo of the two bikers on his cellphone.
During the dispute, Miller had made comments about being "black and white" and that "nobody needs to have any black and white on their phones," Schwartz said.
"One gentlemen stood up, took his coat off, and tried to initiate a fight," Schwartz said, identifying this man as Miller. "I tried to stop it. The gentlemen that tried to initiate a fight tried to get Scott to come outside and fight him, but he would not go. The other gentleman (Kerkau) who was still in the bar ... took a few steps back and just sucker-punched (Peterson). It just proceeded from there."
Peterson denied having taken a photo of Kerkau or Miller.
Bay City Public Safety Officer Todd Armstrong testified he responded to the scene and recovered a necklace bearing a Black Pistons medallion. The Black Pistons is a support club of the Outlaws.
Armstrong added that Kerkau's Facebook page featured references to his "black and white brothers."
Both Kerkau and Miller had been free on bond since their Jan. 12 arraignment, though Kerkau violated a condition of his bond by failing to submit to a preliminary Breathalyzer test on May 5. This prompted Gill to revoke Kerkau's bond and issue a bench warrant for his arrest.
Kerkau is now being held in the Bay County Jail pending his sentencing. Gill is to sentence both defendants at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, July 30.
USA - BN.