Prisoner Steven Sandison, killer of child molester cellmate, says he’s not a hero

SAGINAW, MI — Some people think Steven D. Sandison is a hero for killing his child molester prison cellmate, Sandison said, but he wants to the world to know he isn’t.

It’s been two months since Sandison laid out his rationale for the killing before a Saginaw County judge. Wednesday, April 22, he returned to court to hear his sentence.

“People think I’m some kind of hero, when I’m actually not,” said Sandison moments before Saginaw County Chief Circuit Judge Fred L. Borchard sentenced him for killing Theodore Dyer in October at the Saginaw Correctional Facility in Freeland.

Sandison said some people have criticized his actions, as well.

“I just did what I thought was best in the time I was given,” Sandison continued. “I’ve been getting these emails saying that, you know, it’s not my position to judge anybody. I want to make it quite clear that I didn’t judge him. I know God is the only judge we have. I just set the appointment up.”

Sandison, 51, pleaded guilty in February to second-degree murder for killing the 67-year-old Dyer, a Grand Haven native who was serving a 25-year minimum sentence for first-degree criminal sexual conduct against someone under the age of 13. Sandison already is serving life without parole for murdering his girlfriend in 1991 in Wayne County.

In a confession to police the next day, Sandison said he confronted Dyer about his conviction and that he began assaulting Dyer after Dyer would not stop trying to deny it or justify it. After knocking Dyer unconscious, Sandison used Dyer’s shoelaces to strangle him, Sandison told police.

Sandison said as much in February when he pleaded guilty before Borchard and reiterated Wednesday he is not sorry.

“I don’t feel bad for what I did,” he said. “I feel bad for maybe his family or something, but as far as remorse toward him, no.”

Some of Dyer’s family members were in attendance Wednesday, but they declined to speak before Borchard, said Saginaw County Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Albosta. The family members also declined to speak with The Saginaw News after the sentencing.

Borchard, without further comment, sentenced Sandison to the maximum penalty of life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Steven D. Sandison, 51, laughs with his attorney James Gust before his sentencing in front of Saginaw County Chief Circuit Judge Fred L. Borchard on April 22, 2015.

Sandison’s attorney, James Gust, said the sentence Sandison received was moot because by Michigan law, Sandison must serve his sentence for the Dyer murder consecutively to his current sentence of life without parole.

“Before he can even begin this sentence, he has to die and come back to life,” Gust said.

Gust said Wednesday’s sentencing was “kind of an unusual situation to be in for myself.”

“The sad thing is that … I don’t recall a time I stood next to someone involving a capital offense who had anything remotely close to a normal childhood,” he said. “Mr. Sandison had a very, very difficult childhood. Maybe if he had been born at a different time to different people, he wouldn’t be standing here today. But that did not happen, and here we are.”

Despite his crimes, Sandison is a “likeable guy,” Gust added.

“He’s done some really bad things, but you can’t help but like him,” he said.

Gust said that a couple months ago, Sandison asked him to tell Dyer’s family that he kept telling Michigan Department of Corrections’ personnel to not place him in a cell with a child molester because he would kill him.

“He wanted me to communicate that to them in hopes that maybe they can recoup some financial benefit from this,” Gust said. “That tells you something about him as a guy.”

After Dyer’s death, Michigan Department of Corrections personnel transferred Sandison to a higher custody setting. He now is lodged at the Ionia Correctional Facility at the highest security level.

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