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Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014

Alternative sentence denied convicted burglar

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A man found guilty of several break-ins around Shelbyville lost a bid with the Court of Criminal Appeals for alternative sentencing.

James Edward Church, Jr., had pleaded guilty to 11 counts of theft of property, three counts of burglary, one count of resisting arrest, four counts of auto burglary, and one count of theft of property valued at more than $1,000.

Circuit Court Judge Lee Russell imposed an effective term of approximately 11 years and six months, but Church appealed, saying he should have been given alternative sentencing.

Phone sting

Church had pleaded to all counts in July 2011, for a string of 2010 break-ins at the Laundry Room, Coin-o-matic, and Circle O Trailer Park laundry room. He also stole a number of items from the Fly Arts Building, including a cell phone, which led to Church's capture.

Police called the cell number and got an answer, but the person hung up. But Church called the number back, not realizing he was speaking to Shelbyville police detective Charles Merlo, and offered to sell the officer drugs.

Authorities set up a meeting and during the sting, Church managed to escape on foot, but Church's father believed that the cell phone in question was stolen and turned him in a day later, along with his son's accomplices.

Following further investigation, a number of other break-ins were attributed to Church and his friends.

On probation

Church's presentence report indicated that he had a previous history of criminal convictions, had failed to comply with conditions of release into the public and had been on probation when the break-ins occurred.

"It's been tried, it simply has not worked," Russell said of an alternative term at the time of the sentencing. "I find no likelihood of rehabilitation in the absence of serving his sentence. I think there's a very high likelihood that he would recommit if placed on probation or some form of alternative sentencing."

Special judge J.S. Daniel agreed, saying that the fact alone that Church was on probation when he committed the crimes "is sufficient to deny (Church's) request for alternative sentencing."