A Grand Rapids man convicted in a brutal home invasion and assault of college students in which a young woman was raped returned to a Kent County courtroom for re-sentencing this week, but it did not change the outcome.
Rederick Louis Melton received the same sentence he got three years ago; a minimum of 43 years in prison for the June, 2012 attack on college students on Veto Street near Seward Avenue NW. Several young men were pistol-whipped; a woman was beaten and raped.
“I’ve been on the bench almost 30 years now. Outside of murder cases, this and one other case are the worst I’ve seen,’’ Kent County Circuit Court Judge George S. Buth said.
Melton is one of five people charged in the home invasion, armed robbery and sexual assault. He came back to be re-sentenced based on the Michigan Supreme Court’s July, 2015 decision that sentencing guidelines mandating prison terms are unconstitutional. Judges should use them only in an advisory capacity, justices said.
Melton was re-sentenced to between 18 and 40 years for first-degree criminal sexual conduct, 18 to 40 years for armed robbery and 7 to 20 years for home invasion. The sentences are consecutive, meaning they must be served back-to-back rather than at the same time. It is the same sentence Buth gave Melton in May, 2013.
“Consecutive sentences are strong medicine and reserved for those situations where so drastic a deviation from the norm is justified,’’ Buth said.
The normally reserved judge, who is retiring next month, said circumstances of the crime “would really turn anyone’s stomach if they read the facts.’’
The victims held a party in their home near Grand Valley State University’s Grand Rapids campus. After the party ended, they heard a knock at the door in the predawn hours. Two men came inside, saying they lost a wallet. Three others came in through a back door.
Several men staying at the home were beaten and robbed. “I was figuring to die,’’ one of the victims testified at a 2012 court hearing.
The assailants took turns sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman living in the house. Police arrested five people, including a 14-year-old. The adults are all serving lengthy prison terms.
“You escalated a home invasion into armed robbery by using weapons and assaulting the people in the house, tying them up, pistol whipping them, threatening them, terrorizing them,’’ Buth said. “And then to brutally sexually assault, repeatedly, the 18-year-old young lady.’’
The rape “went way beyond what you’d normally see with a sexual assault,’’ Buth said.
“This was very devastating on all the victims here, but especially this young lady,’’ the judge told Melton. “Fortunately, she has a good support system, but she will be suffering the effects of this the rest of her life, I’m sure.’’
Melton, now 24, is at the Ionia Correctional Facility. The earliest he can be considered for release is 2055.