Niles home invader against elderly sentenced to seven to 20 years

Published 4:02 pm Monday, February 14, 2005

By By NORMA LERNER / Niles Daily Star
CASSOPOLIS - A South Bend man convicted for first-degree home-invasion in a crime ring in 2003, went to prison Friday morning in Cass County Circuit Court. Anthony Wilson, 27, of 3614 W. Washington Street, South Bend, will spend seven to 20 years behind bars for his part of a crime spree that terrorized residents in Cass County, Berrien County and St. Joseph County, Ind., for several months. Their particular prey was the elderly. They invaded their homes, bound them, duct taped their mouths and robbed them.
Wilson, involved in a first-degree home invasion at the home of Dennis and Mary Booth on Maple Lane, Niles, on May 20, entered the home but was scared off by the family dog. He ran from the scene but was later apprehended, according to court records. Prosecutor Victor Fitz said Wilson was not as involved as the two others with him, Jonathan Haynes and DeJuan Lowe, who have since been sentenced. He said Wilson did contact crime stoppers. "He needs time in prison for many years to protect the public from this chilling type of activity," Fitz said.
Wilson had nothing to say to the court, but his defense attorney James Jesse said while he was in custody in St. Joseph County, Ind., he did contact the crime stoppers. He makes no excuse for what he did was wrong. He has a lengthy sentence in Berrien County, he said, in asking for a lighter sentence.
Before imposing his prison term, Circuit Judge Michael Dodge said, "Your crimes terrorized the community, particularly the elderly that were your target."
Dodge said Wilson got 15 years in Indiana and four to nine years in Berrien County. But since Wilson was involved in only one crime in Cass County and gave a crime tip that put a stop to it, his plea agreement was for his term to run concurrent with his other two prison terms. "Taking this into account, I agree with the recommendation of the probation department," Dodge said.
His seven to 20 years is to run concurrent with Indiana and Berrien County terms. He was given credit for 239 days served, must pay $60 to the Crime Victims' fund, $60 state cost and $450 court cost.
Also sentenced to prison Friday was James Smith, 29, of 12645 U.S. 12, White Pigeon, for four methamphetamine-related convictions. It was Sept. 14 when Cass County Sheriff's officers investigated a complaint from Smith's landlord about drug use. Officers found evidence of possession of marijuana and attempted to arrest Smith when he resisted. A Taser gun was used successfully on Smith to subdue him. Officers also found methamphetamine and cocaine and components of manufacturing methamphetamine and operating a lab in the presence of three minor children.
Smith has no record, Dodge said, but his activities "were extremely serious business. It's a scourge on the community," he said. Dodge noted that in the presence of minor children, it is a 20-year maximum. He said the court will deviate but not to the extent that defense attorney, William McNeil, requested of probation and a jail term.
Dodge sentenced Smith two to 20 years for operating/maintaining a lab in presence of minors; two to 10 years for possession of methamphetamine; two to four years for resisting and obstructing a police officer; credit for time served of 88 days for possession of marijuana; and 18 to 24 months for maintaining a drug house.
Court costs were $810.
Others sentenced were as follows:
David Ferrier, 35, 409 South S., Cassopolis, two years probation for delivery/manufacture of marijuana on Nov. 17 in Cassopolis. He must pay $60 to the Crime Victims' fund, a $60 state fee, $450 court cost, $350 attorney fee, a $35 fine and $25 per month probation fee. His license was suspended for one year.
Karen Puckett, 45, 60595 Main St., Vandalia, 18 months probation and 150 days jail for possession of cocaine less than 25 grams on Nov. 30, Penn Road, Cassopolis, credit for time served of 73 days for driving while license suspended; 18 concurrent months of probation for attempting to obstruct justice and 150 concurrent days jail. Court costs were $960.
Michael Hankins, 24, 38841 82nd Avenue, Decatur, 270 days jail, two years probation, for possession of methamphetamine on Aug. 20 on M-51, Dowagiac. Court costs were $920 plus $40 per month probation fee. His license was suspended for 80 days. Dodge commended him for completing his general education degree while spending 144 days in jail for which he received credit.
Don Westphal, 49, 25329 Dorchester St., Dowagiac, received credit for time served of 205 days for maintaining a drug house on Nov. 13, 2003, on Dorchester Street, Dowagiac. He is to pay $920 in court costs.
Robert Steglich, 35, 71555 N. 1145 West S., Shipshewana, Ind., received two years of probation and 100 hours of community service for possession with intent to delivery a controlled substance on April 21 on Teasdale Lake Road, Jones. He is to pay a probation supervision fee of $40 per month and $920 in costs. His driver's license was suspended for 180 days.
Ronnie Flowers, 17, 18051 Fuller St., Vandalia, received 90 days jail and two years probation for breaking and entering a building with intent to steal two all-terrain vehicles on July 19 on Mill Street in Vandalia. He is to pay $40 per month probation supervision fee and $920 in costs.
Michael Vinson, 36, 29507 Amerihost Drive, Dowagiac, 300 days in jail for delivery of cocaine less than 50 grams, second offense; 191 days credit for time served for possession of marijuana; 93 days credit for time served for receiving and concealing stolen property less than $200 on Aug. 5 on Telegraph Street, Dowagiac. He is to pay $160 in costs.