Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 7, 2013

Brush attack leads to arrest

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A Traverse City man is accused of using an “algae brush” to attack his girlfriend during a violent argument, authorities said.

Rodney Butler Ney III, 27, was arraigned this week in 86th District Court on a felony charge of assault with a dangerous weapon and misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

Authorities arrested Ney on Oct. 30 after Grand Traverse County sheriff’s deputies on a traffic stop spotted his girlfriend walking down Supply Road and bleeding from her mouth. The victim, 22, said Ney choked her with his right arm while he used his left to repeatedly shove a baby bib into her mouth, according to the police report.

“At this point, (she) explained that the altercation ended up on the living room floor where Ney was on top of her jamming the yellow and blue algae brush in and out of her mouth repeatedly,” the police report states.

The victim managed to break free of Ney, run to a neighbor’s house to call relatives and began to walk toward Traverse City when deputies spotted her. The police report states she had “significant injuries” to her upper and lower lips, bruises to her arms and a long scratch across her chest.

Ney told deputies several times that his girlfriend’s story “must be the truth.” Both Ney and the victim, who have a 10-month-old baby together, said an argument escalated after he made an obscene gesture near a Halloween decoration. The victim also told deputies Ney choked her to the point of “blacking out” five days before the incident.

Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Bob Cooney said a domestic violence wasn’t pursued because the assault with a dangerous weapon charge is more serious. He said objects in Michigan court cases found to be dangerous weapons include an aerosol spray can, a beer bottle, an unloaded gun and a dog.

“Any object just about that could be used as a dangerous weapon can count,” he said.

Objects found not to be dangerous weapons include human teeth, an individual’s bare hands and a “totally inoperable starter pistol,” Cooney said.

The police report doesn’t state whether the algae brush — described as a “yellow cleaning rod with a blue brush pad” — was intended for aquariums or swimming pools.

Ney told deputies he had a bag of marijuana in his pocket before he was arrested and transported to Grand Traverse County jail. He’s being held on a $50,000 cash bond.

A preliminary examination is scheduled for Nov. 18 in 86th District Court.