Niles man gets 10 years for home invasion

Published 4:51 pm Tuesday, October 1, 2013




Special to Leader Publications

Only time will tell if a Niles man has actually made changes in his life. In the meantime, Jonathen Hinkle is going to spend the 10 plus years in prison for breaking into a Bertrand Township home for the third time in the last 10 years.

Hinkle, 33, of North Fourth Street in Niles, pleaded guilty to second degree home invasion as a habitual offender and was sentenced Monday in Berrien County Trial Court to a prison term of 125 months to 22 and a half years. The prison term is consecutive to the sentence he’s currently serving for a parole violation from an earlier conviction.

Berrien County Trial Judge Dennis Wiley also ordered to pay $2,248 in fines and costs and $1,369.96 in restitution.

Hinkle apologized and said he had changed over the last five months that he’s been in prison on a different charge. “I want to apologize to the victims, I sincerely apologize from the bottom of my heart,” he said. “I’m sorry for hurting them, I made a horrible decision.”

“I’ve been in prison for the last five months and I’ve gotten rid of the bad people I used to hang around and surrounded myself with better people,” he said. “I took a longer look in the mirror and realized I had to change. I have three children I need to be a better father for.”

“I hope you have changed, but you can’t unring a bell,” Judge Wiley said. “Only time will tell if you’re sincere in rehabilitating. You have victimized these people more than once and caused them unnecessary hardship.”

The latest break-in at the Bertrand Township home on West Bertrand Road occurred April 30. According to the police report, he pried open a side garage door to enter the house. A number of items were taken including jewelry and a drill. Hinkle was caught after a security camera outside the house captured his image. He was also seen later that day as a customer at a local pawn shop.

Assistant Berrien County Prosecutor Kelly Travis said this is the third time that Hinkle has broken into the home owned by the parents of an ex-girlfriend since 2004. “He dated their daughter and now they’re lifetime victims of his,” she said. “I can’t imagine they’ll feel safe as long as he’s out.”

Hinkle’s past record includes 2004 convictions for attempted home invasion and larceny in a building which drew concurrent two year prison terms, a 2006 conviction for resisting and obstructing police resulting in an 18 month prison sentence and a 2008 home invasion conviction resulting in a four year prison term.

In a court case Tuesday, a Buchanan woman will soon be clear of the court system five years after she caused a crash causing serious injury while operating impaired on Niles-Buchanan Road. The crash seriously injured Lisa Scanlon, the wife of then Buchanan Mayor Joe Scanlon. Scanlon is now a city commissioner.

Linda Clark, 74, was in court Tuesday for a probation violation hearing for failing to pay all the $15,000 in restitution ordered in the case. Clark had been placed on five years probation in November, 2008 for driving impaired causing injury. Her original sentence also included 180 days tether and 400 hours of community service.

Judge Wiley said he will dismiss the probation violation once there’s proof that she’s paid the last $400 owed in restitution. Defense attorney Albert Mais said Clark actually overpaid the amount she owed to an insurance company and just needs to get the paperwork straightened out.