Accused killer pleads guilty


BELLAIRE — A man authorities said shot another who later died could face a lengthy prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to a murder charge.

Robert Vincent Gerring, 30, of Mancelona, entered a plea in a 13th Circuit Court hearing in Bellaire on Aug. 27. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and attempted homicide charges, which both carry sentences of up to life in prison. The deal dropped the remaining charges, including home invasion, felony firearm possession and breaking and entering a building, among other charges.

Kelli Claxton, Gerring’s attorney, declined to comment on the case until after sentencing concludes. The sentencing hearing is set for Monday at 9:30 a.m. in Bellaire.

Antrim County Prosecutor Jim Rossiter could not immediately be reached for comment.

County sheriff’s deputies said Gerring shot 68-year-old Daniel Sutherland in his Chestonia Township home March 10. Court records show he injured a 15-year-old boy in the driveway before he stole a snowmobile and fled the scene.

Sutherland died a few days later.

The injured boy — who later recovered — flagged down M-66 drivers after the shooting and deputies later responded to what they initially suspected was a burglary in progress before finding Sutherland had been shot, according to court records.

Deputies followed footprints in the snow to another home where it appeared Gerring stole the snowmobile, Undersheriff Dean Pratt previously said. Deputies worked with a Michigan State Police helicopter crew to follow the snowmobile tracks to a Kalkaska County home.

Gerring surrendered after midnight following a brief standoff, as previously reported.

He was arraigned on open murder, attempted murder, first- and second-degree home invasion and numerous other charges March 14.

Gerring’s history already includes felony convictions that led to prison sentences, including an attempted assault by strangulation charge and the following 14-month sentence. He additionally has multiple larceny and burglary convictions in Virginia.

Deputies further accused Gerring of break-ins along Green River Road. They suspect he stole a 12-gauge shotgun from one cabin and ammunition from another.

Authorities found a shotgun shell outside a cabin that matched those found on the ground outside Sutherland’s home, according to court records. An autopsy confirmed Sutherland died from a shotgun wound.

Gerring, a convicted felon before the shooting, was barred from possessing a gun, according to court records.

He was set to take his case before a jury for a trial that was scheduled to start Sept. 19.

Staff writer