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Dowagiac minor gets year in jail following string of robberies

Published 8:00am Monday, May 5, 2014

A Dowagiac teenager who was sentenced as an adult and will spend a year in jail for a series of home invasions last year.

Charles Devin Edwards, 16, was given the jail sentence Friday as part of the terms of his three-year probation by Cass County Circuit Judge Michael Dodge, on charges of home invasion in the first degree and home invasion in the second degree. Edwards pleaded guilty to the crimes on March 28.

According to the court, the charges arose from two separate break-ins committed by the teen last year.

The first, which resulted in the second-degree charge, was committed on Aug. 28, when the then 15-year-old broke into a home on Willard Street, stealing cash, cellphones and other small items from the residence. Police were able to identify Edwards as the person responsible for the invasion due to blood samples and fingerprints left behind at the scene, Dodge said.

The second incident, which resulted in the first-degree charge, took place several months later on Oct. 3, after Edwards broke into a house on Green Street.

“While you were inside the home in the process of stealing some personal property, the home owner came home and confronted you, and you bolted out the back door,” Dodge said. “You were rather quickly apprehended by the Dowagiac Police, who located you in the neighborhood, realized you matched the description given to them by the victim, and they arrested you.”

The homeowner reported $110, a laptop and digital camera missing from his residence.

Probate Judge Sue Dobrich had initially heard Edwards’ case as a juvenile, but waived the case to adult court due to the severity of the charges, Dodge said.

“These are serious crimes, and I’m sympathetic to the victims whose homes you invaded,” Dodge said. “You destroyed their privacy, which is usually much more important than the loss of personal property. They can replace that personal property. That sense of security, that someone won’t break into their home again, is really difficult for them to recapture.”

While the sentencing guidelines for the crimes called for mandatory prison sentences, Dodge agreed with the defense’s argument that a probation sentence would be more appropriate, given Edwards age and troubled upbringing.

“Four years of prison, at his age, is going to have a devastating effect on Edwards, one way or another,” said his attorney, Robert Drake.

Edwards has been trying to turn his life around since his arrest, pursuing a GED diploma from jail, Drake said.

“The wake up call that I’ve had since I was incarcerated is that these actions don’t only affect me, but the people around me,” Edwards said. “This ain’t the life I want to lead.”

Edwards was given credit for 114 days already served.

Also sentenced Friday:

• Carl Edward Blassingame, 57, of Dowagiac, to 10 days in jail for failure to comply with reporting duties as a sex offender.

• Brenda Joyce Love, 46, of Dowagiac, to one-year probation for possession of Vicodin.

• Michelle Leann Henslee, 21, to two-years probation for meth related charges.

• Michael Lee Beard, 52, to one year in jail for failure to register as a sex offender.

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