GRANDVILLE, Mich. — An attempted kidnapping charge against Donald Zeigler Jr. has been dropped. Instead, he agreed to plea guilty to third-degree child abuse and stalking for following and carrying an 8-year-old outside Fairlanes Bowling Alley.
Zeigler entered his plea at his preliminary hearing Friday morning. He was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation.
His attorney, Josh Kuiper told the judge, "Certainly, he didn't intend to cause the furor that he caused the family. He legitimately thought he was helping a young girl. But that was wrong. He should not have picked a child up whose family he did not know."
Kuiper explained, "He did so because he had been drinking. He took a breathalyzer during the course of this investigation that indicated that he was intoxicated."
Kent County prosecutor Chris Becker said Zeigler blew a .12 on the breathalyzer.
Becker told reporters, "We have to show a malicious intent getting out there, and that would be very difficult. There's no child sexually abusive material. There's no ropes or traps. There was nothing to indicate what he was going to do beyond that."
"It was very difficult charge to prove intent. Even if we did somehow do it, there was some case law out there that we were worried that it could get overturned on appeal," he explained.
"So I think it was a reasonable resolution on both sides," Becker said.
The girl's grandmother spoke in court and said the 8-year-old has been traumatized by this incident.
Zeigler, who served 36 days in jail, apologized to the family when given an opportunity at the hearing.
"I want to apologize to the family for any pain that I caused you or scaring you. It was not my intent," Zeigler said. "I apologize. I never should've picked up your daughter."