MI suing convicted killer for book sales

The cover of "The Graybar Hotel," which profits are being sued for by the state of Michigan.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The State of Michigan is suing a prisoner for money he earned from a book deal he got while behind bars.

Curt Dawkins is convicted of murdering Tom Bowman in Kalamazoo, back in 2004.

Dawkins’ book, “The Graybar Hotel” was reviewed by the New York Times. Now, the State wants the money from the book sales.

Michigan law allows assets to be seized to reimburse the state for the cost of housing a prisoner.

The twist in this case is the money isn’t going to the prisoner, it’s going to his three kids.

The money is supposed to help them pay for college, their mother Kimberly Knutsen said.

“It was the one bright spot that these kids could go to college and their dad would be able to help them do that,” said Knutsen.

Knutsen says their three kids are now 17, 19 and 23-years-old.

“The whole story is a horrific tragedy,” said Knutsen.

Back in October of 2004, police said Dawkins smoked crack, dressed up in a gangster Halloween costume and then went on a rampage.

He shot and killed Tom Bowman and held another person hostage. The victims were chosen at random.

“He had a psychotic break,” explained Knutsen.

Dawkins is now serving a life sentence without parole at Lakeland Correctional Facility.

“It’s horrible what happened to the victim and his family and in a lesser way my children,” said Knutsen. “They lost their dad that night and they’ve suffered greatly too.”

This book was a way for Dawkins to help mend his family.

“So if the state of Michigan wants to take that away you know, I think that’s really sad,” she said.

The victim’s brother feels differently.

“This is (expletive), my brother is dead,” said Kenneth Bowman. “He never hurt anybody and yet the guy that murdered him is living like a king in prison.”

Knutsen said Dawkins doesn’t get a penny. She explained that the literary rights were assigned to an LLC which goes to their children.

“If I had my say, we wouldn’t be talking about it,” said Bowman. “The son of a b—- wouldn’t be alive we wouldn’t have to worry about it. I hope they take every cent from him and then some.”

Knutsen said after taxes, agent and editor costs, the book brought in about $30,000.

“This is a horrific trauma, nothing will erase that, but the fact is two wrongs don’t make a right. For future generations to suffer because of happened doesn’t’ make sense. It’s not a zero-sum game,” said Knutsen.

She said Dawkins got a bill from the attorney general for about $370,000 to pay for his incarceration so far.

A hearing is scheduled next month in Kalamazoo Circuit Court for the suit.