A 54 year old Smithville man who allegedly broke into a residence in July, 2014 received a fifteen year prison sentence as a career offender Thursday in DeKalb County Criminal Court.
Following a sentencing hearing, Judge Gary McKenzie handed down the fifteen year term for aggravated burglary against David Michael Petty as a career offender, the maximum allowed by law. Petty got another twelve years as a career offender for theft of property over $1,000. The sentences will merge as one fifteen year term. Petty must serve at least 60% of the sentence before becoming eligible for parole.
Petty stood trial and was convicted in DeKalb County Criminal Court Wednesday, December 9.
Both the trial and sentencing hearing were covered exclusively by WJLE.
After deliberating for less than an hour, a jury of six men and six women found Petty guilty of aggravated burglary and theft of property over $1,000 as charged in the indictment against him.
Because Petty has multiple previous felony convictions in several counties dating back to 1980, Assistant District Attorney General Stephanie Johnson asked the court to sentence him as a career offender. "Mr. Petty's criminal conduct spans 35 years. He has very serious prior felony convictions. I understand they are from the 1980's but still we have someone who has persistently violated the law and obtained criminal convictions in several different counties in our state. Mr. Petty has been active in five different surrounding counties. He previously violated and has been revoked on parole twice and probation five times. This defendant has not had any measure of success on supervised release in our community. Furthermore, while he has not been charged, he has been out on an OR bond and has admitted drug use so he has continued to involve himself in illegal activity while this case was pending trial," Assistant DA Johnson told the court Thursday.
A co-defendant in the case, 44 year old Anthony Lynn Colwell pled guilty in July to aggravated burglary and received a TDOC sentence of eleven years at 45% before parole eligibility. The term is to run concurrently with a Warren County case against him. He was given two days of jail credit.
Sheriff Patrick Ray said at the time of their arrests that on Tuesday, July 8, 2014 Petty and Colwell broke into a residence on Man Hill Road and stole a jewelry box containing several items of jewelry which were later pawned at a local jewelry store and at a pawn shop in Warren County. Petty's defense essentially was that while he sold the property, he did not commit the burglary and theft.
Petty's attorney Michael Auffinger, in asking the court for leniency for his client Thursday, said that Petty was never proven to have participated in the burglary. "There was never any direct proof whatsoever that tied him to the burglary," he said.
Auffinger also pointed out that Petty voluntarily cooperated with law enforcement officers in the burglary investigation and tried to settle the debt with one of the pawn shop owners who suffered a loss because of the case. He also said Petty suffers from significant health problems and underwent surgery last week. Auffinger asked the court to make Petty's sentence at the "bottom of the range" of punishment allowed by law in this case.
Judge McKenzie found that due to seven prior felony convictions since 1980, which included three kidnappings, an assault with intent to commit a felony, and a grand larceny, Petty should be sentenced as a career offender
"Mr. Petty it looks to me that from 1980 to today there has been criminal behavior on your part," said Judge McKenzie on Thursday. " In the sentencing report there was a DUI conviction around 2003. There is a disorderly conduct in 2000. If your 1983 cases were not of a felony nature that would be one thing. If they were smaller level offenses that would be one thing but they are kidnappings. There's an assault. And then there are some drug offenses and burglaries. There is a lot of criminal history here. Based on those seven felonies I'm going to classify you as a career offender. Most individuals go their entire lives without a single arrest. Without a single conviction. The vast majority of us go our entire lives without multiple convictions. And you've got seven. The prior criminal history and multiple convictions certainly weighs strong for the state. If an individual in our community gets seven prior felony offenses then there becomes a need to protect society from releasing him back," added Judge McKenzie.
A hearing on a motion for a new trial in the case will be heard on March 21.