Heritage Lake man, 20, sentenced in residential burglaries

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A 20-year-old Heritage Lake man -- literally a Boy Scout and honor student before "his life went off the rails," as his attorney said -- has been sentenced in connection with two residential burglaries.

In a plea agreement, Jacob E. Montgomery has pleaded guilty in Putnam Superior Court to two counts of burglary in return for the state dismissing two counts of theft relative to July 23, 2014 incidents at the Heritage Lake residences of Ryan Blanford and Joseph and Linda Williams.

Judge Denny Bridges sentenced Montgomery to eight years in prison on each count with six years to be executed with two years suspended and the two counts running concurrently.

Montgomery, who has already served 469 days in the Putnam County Jail, will serve the remaining executed portion of his sentence on home detention as a direct commitment through Community Corrections.

Although Montgomery pled guilty and will pay more than $7,700 as full restitution for damages and loss in the two burglaries, by all accounts he had been a model citizen until he "got into drugs," his public defender attorney told the court.

"At some point we kind of got off the rails," attorney Austin Malayer suggested to the defendant, asking what prompted that character change.

Montgomery offered an obvious one-word answer: "Drugs."

Before heroin took hold of him, Montgomery was "a high school honor student and an Eagle Scout and had been accepted to college (at IUPUI)," Malayer said.

"He would like to join the military and he still plans on going to college," his court-appointed attorney added.

"He's a genuinely good kid," Malayer noted, "and I can't say that about a lot of people who sit next to me at this table. But he made the worst decision of his life to break into these homes."

Meanwhile, his co-defendant, identified in court as Blake A. Metcalf, 20, has been charged in the case but has yet to be picked up by authorities.

Malayer said Metcalf has "fled the state."

Aiding Montgomery's case was that he turned himself in at the jail, sought drug treatment while incarcerated and eventually became a jail trustee.

He also contends that he did not enter either home in question, only driving the get-away truck.

That seemed to puzzle Deputy Prosecutor Jim Ensley, who asked the defendant, "Now you're saying you did not enter the house?

"Assisting in these burglaries or committing these burglaries," Ensley continued, "you knew what was going on. You didn't say, 'No, stop, bad idea,' did you?"

"No," Montgomery admitted.

Ensley called the agreement "a fair plea," noting that Montgomery's lack of criminal history was taken into consideration in the process.

Malayer, meanwhile, said "no benefit would be served by putting this young man in prison," which would only prevent him from becoming "a contributing citizen," he added.

In imposing his sentence, Judge Bridges noted the absence of any of the victims in his courtroom.

"There's no one here jumping up and down, stomping their feet for you to go to prison," he told Montgomery. "But whether the victims are here on not, nobody wants their home broken into. I've known people who have had to move (after their homes were burglarized) knowing strangers were in their house because it's so traumatic."

Judge Bridges then handed Montgomery the maximum sentence "pursuant to the cap in the plea agreement."

Serving out the rest of the sentence (after time-served credit of 469 days) on home detention is expected to allow the defendant to enroll in college as he planned.

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