A Bloomingburg man seen riding in the village on a bicycle with fishing poles and a shotgun was sentenced to prison Monday after he allegedly stole the items from the home of a deceased family member.
Forty-nine-year-old Kenneth Butcher, 30 Market St. in Bloomingburg, was seen by a witness July 31 riding on a bicycle and carrying the items he had picked up from his deceased cousin’s residence on Union Street while other family members, including the decedent’s rightful estate executor, were away from the residence.
In an Aug. 2 interview with the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, Butcher admitted that prior to removing the items from the residence, he had been inside the residence with the other family members and had moved the fishing poles and shotgun. He placed them in an unlocked breezeway, reports said, and later returned to pick them up once everyone was gone.
Butcher appeared for a plea and sentence hearing in the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas Monday to charges of low-tier third degree felonious burglary and having weapons under disability.
He acknowledged during court that he committed the burglary and carried off the shotgun, but just when Judge Steven Beathard asked him to give his plea on the two charges, Butcher interrupted the proceeding and said, “That’s not what I thought was happening, your honor, I thought I was pleading for burglary and the weapons charge is dismissed.”
Since Butcher appeared to not understand what charge he was or was not pleading to, Beathard stopped the plea proceeding to talk with Butcher and the attorneys.
Assistant Fayette County Prosecutor Sean Abbott said the plea negotiation paper in his possession stated Butcher’s agreement was that he would plead to both charges. The court confirmed Butcher had a previous felony conviction from a 2006 case that made it illegal for him to be in possession of a firearm. Beathard told Butcher to discuss the case more with his defense attorney, Kathryn Hapner, and took the hearing off the record.
Thirty minutes later, Butcher’s case went back on the record, and Abbott again stated the facts of the case and the agreed upon terms of the plea and sentence negotiation deal.
Abbott stated that it was the court’s understanding that in exchange for Butcher’s guilty plea to both charges, he would receive a sentence of one-and-half-years in prison.
Just before taking his plea in open court, Beathard was interrupted by Butcher. Butcher said that he was not aware that if he agreed to plead guilty to both counts that he would also be sentenced on the same day. Beathard told Butcher to talk with his attorney again.
After a couple of minutes spent discussing the issue, Butcher told the court that he needed a few days to prepare for his sentence and asked to be sentenced at a later date.
Beathard appeared to frown while considering the request.
Beathard’s final decision was to give Butcher one week to get his affairs in order and told Butcher that he would not be immediately placed in sheriff’s custody, but would be given permission to report to the Fayette County Jail next Monday morning. From there, the sheriff’s office transports people to the appropriate correctional facility.
In Butcher’s case, he would be conveyed to Correctional Reception Center in Orient, Ohio.
Butcher then plead guilty to both counts of burglary and having weapons under disability. During the hearing, he cried and apologized “to everyone.” He was sentenced by Beathard to nine months in prison on each charge for a total term of one-and-a-half years.
Beathard told Butcher that he is to report to the Fayette County Jail Monday morning at 8 a.m. and added that if he does not report, he can get another year-and-a-half term added to his sentencing order.
Reports said the shotgun and fishing poles were returned to the decedent’s residence.
Reach Ashley at (740) 313-0355 or connect on Twitter by searching Twitter.com for @ashbunton