Man gets 9 years for 9 break-ins
By Blake Belden, Staff Writer
Mar 11, 2014, 15:44
PRINCE GEORGE — A Disputanta man was sentenced to five years in prison for his role in eight burglaries throughout Prince George County.
Brian Miller pleaded guilty in Prince George Circuit Court in October to 16 felony charges related to a string of break-ins and burglaries around the county in the summer of 2013.
Judge Allan Sharrett sentenced Miller to a total of 160 years imprisonment with 155 suspended on Thursday afternoon.
Miller would ride around in a maroon van with co-defendant Brittney Wells looking for houses that were unoccupied, and when it was determined that nobody was home, he would kick in the front or back door and steal jewelry, drugs and other valuables.
Miller used his testimony to apologize to everyone he had hurt or affected with his actions.
“I’m ashamed of what I have done,” he said before the courtroom, accepting all responsibility and consequences for his crimes.
After his mother passed away from lung cancer in 2010, his wife divorced him and he lost his job and home, Miller began to abuse painkillers as a coping mechanism which turned into a dangerous addiction, according to his testimony.
Kenneth Hendricks, the minister at the Woodlawn Baptist Church, said he has known Miller’s family for almost two decades and offered counsel for Miller when his mother’s cancer made a turn for the worse around 2009. He testified that Miller had always been a balanced individual and caring family man, but he began to fall apart as a result of the drama occurring in his life.
“When I looked into his eyes, I knew I couldn’t help him,” Hendricks said during his testimony. “He had a need that was emotionally deeper than [the church] could satisfy.”
Miller received ineffective treatment from area hospitals, which drove him to begin burglarizing homes and selling stolen goods with Wells to keep feeding his addiction, according to Miller’s testimony.
Wells was found guilty in December of four counts of breaking and entering and four counts of grand larceny in Prince George Circuit Court, for which she still awaits her sentencing on May 1.
Defense attorney Amanda Mann asked Sharrett to take into consideration Miller’s cooperation with authorities to not only incriminate himself, but Wells also, in addition to the fact that he is deeply apologetic and had a mostly clean criminal record (one misdemeanor) prior to these burglaries.
“He has done everything he can do to make this right,” Mann said.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Mark Barnard asked Sharrett to inflict a punishment harsher than the required minimum, yet still significantly less than the maximum, to bring justice for the victims whose sanctity had been violated by the burglaries, and whose sentimental belongings cannot be restored by a monetary sum.
Judge Sharrett agreed that one year of imprisonment for each incident was appropriate, however he took into consideration Miller’s prior sentencing of four years imprisonment for one burglary in Colonial Heights. In effect, sentencing Miller to five years active imprisonment would add up to nine total years imprisonment for nine burglaries in both Prince George and Colonial Heights.
“[The sentence] reflects the seriousness of these crimes, but also reflects the defendant’s cooperation and remorse,” Sharrett said.
Miller’s suspension for Prince George remains in effect given that he be of good behavior, follow the guidelines of his probation and pay a restitution of $4,400 for the stolen property of the victims.
Miller awaits sentencing in Hopewell Circuit Court on March 12 after he pleaded guilty to one count of breaking and entering, one count of grand larceny and one count of selling stolen property.