Car thieves get 10 year sentence
Two of the four people convicted of several thefts and incidences of criminal mischief in several counties that resulted in $340,000 worth of theft or damage were sentenced Wednesday to a prison term not to exceed 10 years. If convicted of all charges against them, both had been looking at over 100 years in prison.
A press release from the Washington County Attorney’s Office reported that Travis Alan Peterson, 21, of Washington, and Michael Patrick Mueller, 19, of Washington, had previously pleaded guilty to charges in connection with five incidents.
Peterson pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary, a Class C felony; aiding and abetting theft in the first degree, a Class C felony; two counts of criminal mischief in the second degree, Class D felonies; and aiding and abetting second-degree theft, a Class D felony.
Mueller had pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting theft in the first degree, a Class C felony; two counts of criminal mischief in the second degree, Class D felonies; and two counts of aiding and abetting second-degree theft, Class D felonies.
County Attorney Larry Brock said that there had been a plea agreement, but the sentence was contested and the defendant had asked for a lesser sentence. Peterson had requested probation and being sent to a residential facility. Mueller had requested probation. Brock had request a sentence of not more than 15 years, but said Judge Joel Yates had ruled they should get no more than 10 years.
“There were five different cases involved and when I did my plea agreement, I had them plea the five cases to one count so that they pleaded guilty in each case that was brought against them,” Brock said. “Obviously there is no judge in the world who would have sentenced them to 100 years, that was the maximum. Looking at what they had done, I thought some prison time was needed. I think they needed to understand what they were doing was wrong and they needed to be held accountable for that they had done.”
Originally Peterson was charged with one Class B felony, six Class C felonies, 11 Class D felonies, and eight misdemeanors. He faced 143 years in prison. Mueller was charged with one Class B felony, five Class C felonies, seven Class D felonies and three misdemeanors and faced 115 years in prison.
The arrests bring to an end an investigation into thefts and criminal mischief in Washington, Johnson, Louisa and Henry counties that has been ongoing for several months. On Feb. 20 the Washington County Sheriff’s Office executed two search warrants in the City of Washington and one in rural Washington County in reference to the investigation. On Feb. 21, a fourth warrant was executed in rural Washington County. The arrests were a result of evidence gathered.
The cases were based on a series of auto thefts and other property thefts that occurred between Sept. 10, 2012, and Feb 11, 2013. During the crime spree, several vehicles were vandalized, including one being stolen and pushed into a rock quarry. In anther incident, a vehicle was left to burn on a bridge after catching the wheels on fire. Another incident involved stealing a truck and smashing it with a semi-trailer in Johnson County.
Brock said the reports say that they had played video games involving stealing vehicles all day long. Eventually, they decided to try it in real life.
Nathan Douglas Mueller, 22, of Washington and Alexander Lee Fields, 19, of Washington, were also charged. Fields has already pleaded guilty and he will be sentenced in November. Nathan Mueller’s cases are still pending.
A press release reports that some of the items reported taken include passenger vehicles, semi, an ATV, a riding lawnmower and numerous hand and power tools.