Did terpening's strategy really work, after all?

Michael Terpening 2003 Arrest

November 5, 2012

I've puzzled for some explanation for what I've seen from the defendant in this case from the start. With all the accusers how could any reasonable person believe Terpening was walking out of court at the end of last week's trial? For that matter how could a complete fool believe he was walking out a free man? And whose bright idea was it to put his wife on the stand when she had no obligation to testify, at all?

Maybe that's the clue to the reason Terpening never took a plea. Rodney the recanting witness has been very consistent in saying the charges relating to him were consensual. The jury seemed to agree and found Terpening not guilty on those charges.

Terpening's wife tries to back up the conspiracy theory that Rodney and the first accuser Brian were in cahoots. Pretty bold of her to try and refute the DNA evidence and one heck of a risk for Mrs. Terpening in the upcoming family court trial. Yet if she raised reasonable doubt three more charges would have been gone.

As it stands Terpening won acquittal on four of eight charges. Instead of facing a possible term of life in prison, according to a spokesperson for the Michigan Attorney General said Terpening faces a maximum sentence of 15 years and they plan to ask for the maximum sentence.

Will Michael Aaron Terpening get the maximum sentence? In a word, no.

If Terpening were to get the maximum sentence he would serve 15 years and be released only being required to register as a sex offender. If, for example, he was given a ten year sentence with 25 years probation the court would retain some jurisdiction over Terpening with the ability to send him back to jail should he violate the terms of his probation. Under such a scenario the court would essentially have five years available should Terpening prove to be non-compliant with his probation.

As it stands he will get a minimum sentence he must serve. Once that sentence is served the Department of Corrections will begin holding reviews for parole. The theory, again, is release before reaching his maximum sentence gives the Department of Corrections the ability to transition Terpening back into the community while retaining very onerous requirements of him while he is on parole.

In both cases Terpening would be closely monitored over a period of time. It can mean surprise appearances at his home, electronic monitoring, drug testing, warrantless searches of his home, and prohibitions on many activities. If Terpening is stopped by a police officer, for example, while on probation his car can be searched without any reason. If he is not allowed to possess alcohol and alcohol were found he could be sent to jail pending a hearing and face time in jail for violating the terms of his probation.

The Attorney General offered Terpening a plea bargain resulting in his facing from two to fifteen years. Given what he did he would not be out in two years and would likely have faced a term toward the higher end of that sentence.

He gambled the charges relating to Rodney were vulnerable and won. Terpening gambled he could connect Rodney and Brian and in a conspiracy and beat those charges and lost. The win, however, gives him the same exposure he had under the Attorney General's plea offer. It seems impossible the other victims could be discredited as they did not know one another. It was one story at a time and no true, "witch hunt" could have been employed by the young people.

What could have been a life term likely sees this 32 year old man out of prison before his 40th birthday. For this writer, I wonder if this was the strategy all along. Terpening has three well respected lawyers, one who has been in practice for more than 40 years. Did Terpening really pull off something of a win Friday? Is the win to have limited Terpening's exposure to a prison term?

The Attorney General was no dummy in this case and Terpening may have gotten a little too confident as he employed his cult like Terpening Followers to attack and manipulate the victims. The testimony repeatedly showed the involvement of Jamie Moore Bell and others in trying to "enhance" this possible stratagem by the defense. The Rodney-Brian conspiracy works better when Jamie Moore Bell is not helping Rodney put together a script for Youtube recants or the friendly Barry County Commissioner is out shopping the recant to the media.

Of course there was that pesky DNA supporting Brian's story, too.

What do you think?