JENISON, Mich. (AP) — A western Michigan college professor whose severely autistic 16-year-old son drowned in an icy backyard pool last March says the authorities treated him unfairly by charging him in his son's death.
Timothy Koets, who is scheduled to stand trial in March in the drowning of Samuel Koets, on Tuesday told the television program “Inside Edition” that he is being unjustly portrayed as an uncaring father who neglected to look after his son.
“I just can’t believe it. I mean, 16 years, we cared for that boy, and to have the prosecutor treat me this way is very, very hurtful to me,” said Koets, who has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and could face up to 15 years in prison if he's convicted.
Authorities said Timothy and Michelle Koets would restrain Samuel’s arms to prevent him from harming himself or others, and the boy's basement bedroom was bare and in deplorable condition. Several police officers, paramedics and child services workers noted in court that they visited the Koets’ home on multiple occasions before he died.
When investigators found Samuel face-down in the pool behind the family's home in Georgetown Township, 170 miles (270 kilometers) west of Detroit, his arms were bound, authorities said. Timothy Koets had left him outside when he went to work at the school and knew Samuel had gotten into the pool because his 13-year-old daughter texted him a photo of Samuel standing in the water.
Koets said he woke his wife before leaving for work that day so that she could watch Samuel. Michelle Koets, who had worked a night shift as a registered nurse, confirmed that he did alert her before heading out.
“Tim woke me up and I fell back asleep. Tim thought I was up to supervise Sam so he could go back to work. He would never leave Sam unattended,” she told the news broadcast.
The couple's daughter then shook her mother awake and Michelle Koets sprinted to get her son out of the pool. However, Samuel Koets already had gone under and couldn't be resuscitated despite attempts by arriving rescuers.