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GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN – Terrell Churchwell, 27, of Muskegon, Michigan was sentenced to 120 months (10 years) in federal prison for firearm offenses, U.S. Attorney Andrew B. Birge announced today. In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Paul L. Maloney imposed a 3-year term of supervised release that will commence once Churchwell is released from imprisonment.
Churchwell pled guilty on June 27, 2017, to two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Churchwell admitted at the plea hearing that he possessed a handgun in the summer of 2015 and a rifle in the spring and summer of 2016. Investigation revealed that the handgun was stolen. Churchwell had previously been convicted of two felonies: a drug offense and failing to register as a sex offender.
In its sentencing memorandum, the U.S. Attorney’s Office noted that Churchwell had an "extensive history of violence – a history that started when he was 14 years old and has continued, unabated to the present." The United States detailed Churchwell’s long history of assaults, threats, and domestic violence, as well as his history of drug offenses, repeatedly failing to register as a sex offender, and other crimes. In addition, the United States proved at sentencing that Churchwell illegally possessed a number of additional firearms, which he used to threaten and intimidate others. The United States further proved that Churchwell obstructed justice in this case by tampering with witnesses. The U.S. Attorney’s Office wrote that Churchwell’s history and conduct warranted a ten-year sentence to "reflect the seriousness of the defendant’s conduct, promote respect for the law, deter future criminal conduct by the defendant, deter others from engaging in similar conduct, and provide just punishment for his criminal conduct."
U.S. Attorney Birge stated: "The defendant’s sentence sends a clear message that violence and witness tampering will not be tolerated, particularly not in Muskegon."
The charges in this case are the result of a joint investigation by the Muskegon City Police Department, the Michigan State Police, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean M. Lewis prosecuted the case. The U.S. Attorney's Office, the Muskegon County Prosecutor's Office, and federal, state, and local law enforcement are working closely together to combat violent crime and witness tampering in the Muskegon area.