Man pleads guilty to killing mother, 72

Michael Roersma's mug shot from the Ottawa County jail.

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — A Coopersville man accused of killing his mother and dumping her body in the Grand River has pleaded guilty to murder.

Michael Roersma, 50, took a plea deal on Friday to avoid life behind bars. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. In exchange, prosecutors dropped a charge of first-degree murder. As a result, Roersma faces 20 to 40 years in prison rather than a life sentence.

Investigators say 72-year-old Sharon Roersma was beaten and strangled before her body was dumped in the river in September 2014.

Her son, Michael Roersma, initially told investigators he had nothing to do with her death. Later, he said he accidentally hit her with a door, causing her death.

However, the medical examiner testified his mother had multiple bruises and cuts from an assault, not a fall.

During his preliminary hearing, Roersma’s sister testified that he called her in late September claiming their mother was missing. He said they needed to check the river because he heard on the news that a body was found. His sister also said their mother’s bank accounts were cleaned out.

Roersma was originally set to stand trial starting on Tuesday. His sentencing is now scheduled for Nov. 16.

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