Father pleads in death of son who drowned in icy pool

Ottawa County

HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — A father has pleaded guilty on Tuesday to involuntary manslaughter in his teenage son’s death, who drowned in the family’s backyard pool.

Timothy Koets also pleaded guilty to fourth-degree child abuse in an Ottawa County courthouse. Two other charges were dismissed. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 18.

Koets, a former Grand Rapids Community College professor, was charged in October 2019 in the death of his 16-year-old son Sam Koets.

Sam, who doctors say had the cognitive ability of a 2-year-old, died in March 2019 after making his way into an above-ground pool at the family’s home near Hudsonville.

Authorities say Sam was in the icy pool for hours and died of cold water drowning. They say Koets’ daughter texted him a photo of Sam in the pool and he allegedly replied, “make sure the freak is OK.”

In January, Koets told “Inside Edition” in an interview that “freak” was a fun-hearted nickname.

Samuel Koets
A courtesy image of Samuel Koets.

On Tuesday, Timothy Koets also pleaded guilty to obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. In December 2019, Timothy Koets and his wife, Michelle Koets, were charged after being accused of filling Sam’s Ritalin prescription after he died and then using the drugs themselves for months.

In this case, two other charges were dismissed.

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Paul Kraus was in court for Tuesday’s hearing.

Kraus later called the plea agreement “fair” during an interview with News 8.

“I’m pleased that it culminated in this plea today,” Kraus said. “It sends a strong signal to our community that all children matter, all children have worth, life is important.”

Kraus said this case will forever be burned in his memory.

“This is one of those cases that 20 years from now, I will remember vividly,” he said. “ … there’s no agreement that could be reached that would be perfect and there’s no agreement that could be reached that could bring Sam back.”

In June, Michelle Koets was sentenced to 21 days in jail after pleading no contest to one misdemeanor charge of obtaining a controlled substance by false representation.

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