Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · Bar Fight Gone Bad
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Bar Fight Gone Bad

Patrick Sullivan - January 23rd, 2012  
Senseless beating changes three lives forever

Michigan Department of Corrections mugs of Christopher Hildreth (l) and Gary Ellis (r).

Chance Craft, owner of Northwoods Tattoo, where Hildreth used to work, and a fellow member of the group World Wide Animal Control.

As Christopher Hildreth and Gary Ellis prowled from one bar to another, it looked to some like the pair was desperate for a fight.

Shane Marquette was out that night, too, making his way from bar to bar, and though he said he was not looking for a fight, he found one.

He says he doesn’t recall exactly what led to his encounter with Hildreth and Ellis outside of the Loading Dock just past midnight on Sept. 22.

Marquette, 37, had been drinking and he said he does not recall saying anything to the two men. A witness told police Marquette said something like, “You better watch your shit,” as Hildreth and Ellis walked passed him into the parking lot.

That was enough, apparently, to invite a vicious beating.

Witnesses described a quick and brutal assault that followed, with Marquette soon down on the pavement, arms flailing above him, Hildreth and Ellis landing punch after punch to Marquette’s head before bystanders approached and chased them away.

Marquette says now he believes those bystanders came just in time -- one more blow, his doctors told him, and it would have been all over.

As Marquette lay bleeding on the pavement, teeth scattered and blood streaming from his head, a family friend happened to be among the first responders who arrived.

Roxanne Hessenaur of the TC Fire Department later told a detective from the TC Police Department that she knew Marquette but didn’t recognize him that night.

“She indicated that she has known Marquette for many years and did not recognize him due to his injuries,” Det. Kevin Gay wrote in the police report. “She also described Marquette’s forehead as being completely crushed and that his brain was essentially exposed to the skin of the forehead. She believed that one more kick or strike to the forehead may have resulted in Marquette’s death.”


Detectives would talk to numerous patrons and employees at the Loading Dock and other bars that evening to piece together the events that led to the asault.

The investigation would lead to the arrest and conviction of Hildreth and Ellis, both 27year-old TC residents, who in late December were sentenced to three to 10 years in prison for convictions of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder.

Hildreth and Ellis were suspects from the get-go. Witness after witness told police that the men had attracted attention earlier in the evening for their seeming determination to find trouble.

An officer who responded that evening talked to a bartender who told the officer he’d noticed Hildreth and Ellis at the pool table where they’d been throwing a pool ball back and forth and had damaged a light fixture hanging over the table with a pool cue. They were asked to leave.

Soon after, the bartender told the officer, he learned of the assault just outside of the bar and he looked outside just in time to see two men running away, the ones from the pool table.

The bartender also told police that the owner of Union Street Station had happened to have been in earlier that evening and warned him about the pair – he said they’d already been banned from Union Street and as long as they were around he could expect trouble.

Other patrons told police about aggressive behavior they witnessed.

One patron said he walked passed Hildreth and Ellis on his way to the restroom and one of them stepped toward him, stuck his chest out and raised his arms in what looked like a show of intimidation.

Another patron wrote in an email to detectives: “I was walking towards the restroom when a guy with several tattoos and piercings came out of the bathroom walking toward me. He kept walking straight as if he wanted to bump into me. We made eye contact so I know he saw me. I quickly moved out of the way so that we didn’t collide. I remember thinking, ‘This guy is an asshole.’” Police also interviewed a bouncer who witnessed the confrontation between the suspects and Marquette.

The bouncer told police that as Hildreth and Ellis left the bar, they passed Marquette, and Marquette said something “to the effect of ‘you need to watch your shit.’”


Marquette is not a saint. He’s been in trouble with the law numerous times. And he’s gotten into too many fights to remember, he said. He said he’s been in at least five, but mostly when he was younger.

He said he doesn’t remember much about that night, but he said he was not out looking for a fight.

“I was out celebrating,” said Marquette, who up until that day worked as a carpenter. “We’d just picked up three contracts on houses.”

Months later Marquette is still recovering.

He no longer can work. He spent over a week in the hospital. His eyes are still dark and, though he had plastic surgery and scars are not immediately apparent, his face looks somehow haunted by the beating.

He agreed to be interviewed but he declined to be photographed.

Marquette believes he was attacked with brass knuckles. He said his doctor told him the injuries appeared to have been caused by something more than bare fists.

“Somebody that was not in as good of shape as me probably would have died from these injuries,” Marquette said, Marquette said he would like to thank the Victims Rights Fund for contributing $25,000 for his medical bill.

He estimates the total bill will come to around $200,000, and although Hildreth and Ellis are court-ordered to pay that when they get out, Marquette said the medical bills currently come to him.

“I don’t remember the assault. I remember bits and pieces. I was pretty intoxicated that night,” he said.

He said he didn’t know Hildreth and Ellis before that night, though he knew some of their friends. Hildreth is a member of World Wide Animal Control, a group of people who like the same kind of punk rock music, have tattoos and piercings, and dress in punk rock clothes. Marquette knew members of that group, he said, because his group of friends and that group of friends hung out at the same places, liked the same music, and were sometimes friendly.

He doesn’t believe the assault had anything to do with World Wide Animal Control, though in the wake of what happened, Marquette said his friends and members of that group have been at odds.

“I have no opinion of them whatsoever,” he said. “This wasn’t an act of that group. This was an act of two individuals and it had a terrible outcome.”


Chance Craft, owner of Northwoods Tattoo in TC, where Hildreth worked, said Hildreth and Ellis are not bad guys. He believes they were provoked into the fight.

Craft, a member of World Wide Animal Control, said it is not a gang and its members don’t go out looking for fights, though he said members typically don’t back away from them, either.

“It’s really just a group of people that are into the same kind of underground music scene,” Craft said.

It started in Seattle in 1996, he said, among fans of a psychobilly band called Los Gatos Locos. The punk rock music inspired concert-goers to misbehave in the mosh pit, and that’s where the name Worldwide Animal Control comes from.

“They were controlling the animals in the pit; it was kind of a joke in the beginning,” Craft said.

As for the assault convictions for Hildreth and Ellis, Craft said he does not believe justice was served.

Craft was not a witness to the assault, he was at home with his wife and kids, but he attended the trial, read police reports and spoke with Hildreth and Ellis.

“Basically, Gary and Chris were at the bar having a good time, doing their thing,” he said. “As they were leaving the bar, Shane Marquette said, ‘Hey, you better watch your back.’” Craft said after that, Hildreth called Marquette a derogatory name and Hildreth and Ellis continued to walk away and Marquette followed.

Witness reports differ about what led to the confrontation.

Craft agrees that if Marquette was down on the ground and defenseless, the fight should have ended, but he said fights can get out of control.

“When you’re in a street fight and your adrenaline is going and you’re nervous and scared . . .” Craft said. “When you start a fight, you throw the dice.”

He said Hildreth and Ellis are both small guys and they’ve gotten picked on a lot and they’ve learned to stand up for themselves.

“They didn’t intend to hurt this dude that bad, I guarantee you,” Craft said.


Ultimately this is a case of something that started over nothing – a flippant comment uttered in passing – and ended with extremely serious consequences for everyone involved.

Alan Schneider, Grand Traverse County prosecuting attorney, who tried the case, said cases that happen inside or just outside of a bar are often difficult to try because witnesses can be unreliable.

This one turned out to be less complicated, Schneider said, because ultimately it didn’t really matter who said what or what started the fight or whether Marquette provoked Hildreth and Ellis.

What mattered was that when Marquette was on the ground, unconscious and defenseless, Hildreth and Ellis continued the assault.

“There was some dispute about whether Marquette was going over to confront Hildreth,” Schneider said.

When Marquette was down, he was obviously unconscious, and the defendants continued to viciously beat him in the head, Schneider said.

Hildreth is also not a stranger to bar fights. He was convicted of aggravated assault in Grand Traverse County for a 2008 assault after he broke a beer glass over a person’s head.

Schneider said one of the physicians who treated Marquette didn’t believe he was beaten with bare hands. He believed a weapon like brass knuckles had to have been used, but Schneider said he could find no other evidence of that and he didn’t want to speculate about that at trial.

Ultimately, that didn’t matter either, because Schneider was able to get assault with intent to cause great bodily harm convictions against both men, the most serious assault charge short of attempted murder.

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