Judge grants stay of sentence for ex-pastor

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Keith Wood in court on June 1, 2017.

BIG RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A former pastor convicted of trying to influence a Mecosta County jury will stay out of jail, at least for now.

An Isabella County circuit court judge Friday evening approved an emergency stay of sentence for Keith Wood, who also posted $2,000 bond to get out of jail.

The motion means Wood will stay out of jail until his sentence appeal is heard. The case is being heard in Isabella County since a Mecosta County judge case disqualified himself.

The 77th District Court judge earlier Friday sentenced Keith Wood to seven consecutive weekends in jail, as well as six months of probation,120 days of community service and $545 in fines and court costs, according to the court.

The father of eight was arrested in 2015 while handing out literature outside the Big Rapids courthouse, telling jurors in the trial of a local Amish landowner they didn’t have to follow the law. The brochure in question described the controversial proposition that jurors can rule according to their own sense of justice regardless of what the law or a judge says.

It took a separate jury less than a half-hour to find Wood guilty. After the verdict was handed down, Wood said he thought the decision would have “a serious implication on free speech rights.”

His defense attorney argued Wood was not trying to influence jurors, but the chief assistant prosecutor noted Wood didn’t hand out the pamphlets any other day before Nov. 24, 2015.

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