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Father ordered to stand trial for manslaughter after son with autism drowns in family pool

Timothy Alan Koets, 50, was ordered to stand trial for the charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of his son Samuel Koets.

HUDSONVILLE, Mich. — The dad of an autistic teen who drowned last March appeared in court Thursday, Dec. 12. 

Timothy Alan Koets, 50, was ordered to stand trial for the charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of his severely autistic son Samuel Koets.

The March 28 death of 16-year-old Samuel launched an investigation that uncovered “deplorable’’ conditions in the teen’s basement bedroom at the family home on Port Sheldon Street near 40th Avenue in Ottawa County’s Georgetown Township, court records show.

In October Koets was charged for several counts including involuntary manslaughter, which is a 15-year felony.

Credit: Courtesy of Family

Samuel's doctor testified that the victim had the mental capacity of a 2-year-old. The prosecution called several witnesses including the defendant's two daughters. 

Child Protective Services case workers, law enforcement officers and Samuel's teachers testified that they have had interactions with Koets many times in the past about the importance of not leaving Samuel unsupervised. 

His defense attorney argued that Koets' wife was home at the time and that his client told his wife to wake up to watch Samuel, while he headed back to work. Koets is an associate professor at Grand Rapids Community College. 

Koets' daughter testified that when she arrived home she found her brother in the pool and her mother was asleep with a noise machine on.

"I was not expecting him to be in the pool because it was just the beginning of springtime and there was still snow on the ground, and I did not expect him to be in the pool so I didn't know what to do," Koets' daughter testified. "I called his name and I tried to reach out to him and he tried to come forward but he couldn't get up."

The prosecutors read text messages between Koets and his daughter. In those messages, Koets refers to his son as "the freak." His daughter testified that her father calls Samuel that name but not in a malicious way. She said no one else in the home referred to him by that name.

Read more: 'They loved their son' | Man charged in autistic teen's drowning is innocent, attorney says

Read more: Dad charged in death of autistic teen found in pool with his arms bound

The manslaughter charge accuses Koets of “leaving [a] child unattended in backyard with access to swimming pool and/or failing to timely respond to child in middle of outdoor swimming pool.’’

Koets was also arraigned on three counts of child abuse in October, including second-degree child abuse and fourth-degree child abuse.

Thursday the judge said she would need time to read the case law before making a ruling on the child abuse charges. He will be back in court on Dec. 31.


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