A Columbus man who drove the vehicle during a home invasion in rural Plain City was sentenced to one year in prison Monday morning in Madison County Common Pleas Court.
Isaiah Willis, 35, pleaded guilty in October to one third-degree felony count of complicity to burglary.
On the morning of April 3, Vickie Easterday returned home on Smith-Calhoun Road to discover glass broken out of her back porch door. Two guitars valued at roughly $500 were among the stolen items. The thief had rifled through drawers, cabinets and closets in several rooms, according to a Madison County Sheriff’s report.
At 12:19 p.m. the same day, Willis was caught on camera selling the stolen guitars and a Peavey mixer at a pawn shop in Columbus. Cellphone data also placed Willis at the scene of the burglary, the report continues.
Willis said he drove, but a friend, Skeeter Pierce, actually broke into the home, according to the report.
No other arrests have been made for the burglary. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Nick Adkins said evidence confirms that multiple suspects were involved, but the investigation is ongoing.
Fingerprints lifted from inside the house were not compared against Willis’ prints because of admissions he made when he was arrested, Adkins said.
Judge Eamon Costello pointed to Willis’ drug addiction as motive for the crime.
Before his arrest, Willis had developed a habit that included a fifth of whiskey, half a gram of cocaine, half a gram of meth and one gram of heroin per day — far more than he could support as a self-employed tile worker, Costello said.
Easterday’s voice shook as she explained to the court the violation of safety and privacy — the knowledge that a stranger has touched the kitchen utensil she reaches for in her drawer; the unwanted spike of fear at her grandson’s name, which happens to also be Isaiah.
She questioned how Willis would respond if a man “like himself” broke into the home of one of his own daughters.
“I suffer nightmares, I cannot sleep at night, every noise I hear, every car that drives up into my driveway sets panic in,” Easterday said, her voice rising. “An addiction is not an excuse to break into somebody’s house and take things that do not belong to you. It’s an extreme violation. That’s the first place I’ve lived in my life that I have felt safe, and you have ruined that!”
Her husband, Mark, also briefly addressed the court.
“While I have compassion for his addiction, I have no sympathy for what he has to go through now,” he said.
During his own brief statement to the court, Willis apologized for taking away the Easterdays’ “peace of mind.”
Willis was also ordered to pay court costs and restitution of $500 to cover repairs made to the broken door. Costello said restitution could not be ordered to cover the homeowners’ subsequent shotgun purchase.
Willis has no prior criminal history except dropped charges for domestic violence and assault originally filed during a breakup.
Costello estimates that more than 80 percent of the county’s break-ins and burglaries can be traced back to drug addiction. Addicts often perceive homes located in rural areas as lower-risk targets, he said.
Several other burglaries have been reported near the Easterdays’ home. However, there is no evidence to suggest that this burglary is connected to any others, Adkins said.
Also in court Monday:
• Daniel Shayne, 47, of London, was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay restitution of $118.38 and the cost of prosecution. Shayne pleaded guilty in October to one fifth-degree felony count of theft of a credit card.
• Uriah Langston, 32, of Mount Vernon, attended his informal pretrial hearing. Langston is charged with one fifth-degree felony of receiving stolen property, two counts of fifth-degree forgery and one misdemeanor count of misuse of a credit card. His formal pretrial hearing is slated for Dec. 1.
• Rachel Lisska, 36, of Columbus, failed to show up for her informal pretrial hearing. Lisska is charged with two fifth-degree felony counts of drug abuse. Costello gave her attorney, Jesse Stacy, until 4 p.m. to contact her or forfeit the possibility for Lisska to receive treatment in lieu of conviction. Whether or not contact was made or an arrest warrant was issued Monday night was not available at press time.
Reach Audrey Ingram at 740-852-1616, ext. 1615 or on Twitter @Audrey.MP