By Helen A. Granger, staff writer
MATTHEW S. McKone (standing, foreground) a defense attorney from Flushing, presents closing arguments in the July 14 probable cause hearing for Daniel Louis Symons of Chesaning. Symons (seated background, left, with hands over his face) is accused of assault with strangulation and kidnapping charges of a 22-year-old female. The victim’s name is being withheld at the request of Shiawassee County Prosecutor Deana Finnegan, (seated foreground, right). (Independent Photo/HELEN A. GRANGER)
District Judge Terrance Dignan found enough probable cause that an assault and kidnapping had occurred May 13 and bound over the accused, Daniel Louis Symons, for an 8 a.m. July 24 date in front of Circuit Judge Matthew Stewart. Dignan also reduced Symons’ cash/surety bond from $500,000 to $25,000. Symons was ordered not to leave Michigan and to maintain weekly contact with his attorney. If convicted of kidnapping by the jury, Symons could face a life sentence. The assault with strangulation carries a felony sentence of 10 years.
To sum up what happened during approximately three hours of testimony: Shiawassee County Prosecutor Deana Finnegan questioned the victim extensively as to the timeline of incidents leading up to two Michigan State Troopers stopping Symons’ vehicle at about 3:30 a.m. May 13. The victim described how she met a man named “Mike West” (a false name used by Symons) through Craigslist. “West” provided a photograph and described himself as a 38-year-old male who was looking for a “sexual rendezvous with a submissive for a casual (sexual) encounter” the victim said. She stated she was interested in exploring the submissive lifestyle and that she wanted a discreet meeting with a man for sex.
After exchanging hundreds of emails over approximately four days, the victim and “West” agreed to meet in East Lansing about 2:30 a.m. in the Panera Bread parking lot near Meridian Mall. From there she thought she would be taken to an apartment in East Lansing. The victim described that she knew she was in trouble when he had placed duct tape over her mouth, a bag over her head, held her in a chokehold and, at one point, tightening the plastic zip ties that had been placed around her wrists behind her back.
Approximately an hour after they met, Michigan State Troopers Aleece Veit and Timothy Madison observed the Symons’ vehicle traveling north of Corunna, in Caledonia Township, on State Road and south of Copas Road swerving and moving erratically. Trooper Madison testified saying he and Trooper Veit initially thought they had just witnessed a possible drunk driver and stopped the vehicle.
“When I approached the vehicle I could hear a woman screaming for help,” Madison said describing how he approached the driver and Trooper Veit approached the vehicle on the passenger side and helped the victim from the car. The victim was not in the back seat as had been previously reported.
McKone questioned the victim repeatedly asking if she knew what being a “submissive” meant. He presented documents about the email conversations she and Symons exchanged. “He (Symons) wanted to know what I would allow or not allow, like most men with sex,” she said.
McKone asked her if Symons had made it clear through the emails as to what he expected and that Symons had told her “this lifestyle isn’t for everyone.” She replied, “Yes, but I also set forth those limits that I thought he would abide by.”
McKone argued that the victim agreed to the “kidnapping and rape fantasy” of being bound and kidnapped so she could not claim she had been kidnapped or assaulted.
“I don’t have to see the movie ‘50 Shades of Grey’ after hearing this testimony,” Judge Dignan said moments before he handed down his decision that there was enough probable cause to move the case to Circuit Court.