Jeffery J. Hunt, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff
Appeal from the Elkhart Circuit Court. The Honorable Terry Shewmaker, Judge. Court of Appeals Case No. 20A03-1408-CR-00300.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: Alexander L. Hoover, Law Office of Christopher D. Walter, Nappanee, Indiana.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE, Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana; Richard C. Webster, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Mathias, Judge. Baker, J., and Crone, J., concur.
[¶1] Jeffery Hunt (" Hunt" ) pleaded guilty in Elkhart Circuit Court to Count I, Class A felony robbery while armed with a deadly weapon causing seriously bodily injury; Count II, Class A felony burglary; Count III, Class B felony conspiracy to commit burglary; and Count IV, Class B felony criminal confinement. Hunt was sentenced to an aggregate term of 120 years executed in the Department of Correction. Hunt appeals and argues that the 120-year sentence imposed by the trial court is inappropriate in light of the nature of the offense and the character of the offender.
[¶2] We reverse and remand.
Facts and Procedural History
[¶3] On November 4, 2013, around 9 p.m., Hunt and his father, Jeffrey Hill (" Hill" ), knocked on the door of the New Paris residence of Don and Joan Neer. Eighty-two year old Don Neer came to the door but refused to open it. Hunt and Hill forced their way into the home, and Hunt struck Mr. Neer on the head with a tire iron, then struck him several more times with the tire iron and his fists as Mrs. Neer watched helplessly. As a result of the attack, Mr. Neer suffered lacerations on his head, three fractured vertebrae in his neck, and a bruised wrist. Hunt and Hill then forced Mr. Neer into the living room, restrained him in a chair, and went through the house, taking guns, a television, and cash.
[¶4] The State charged Hunt with Count I, Class A felony robbery while armed with a deadly weapon causing seriously bodily injury; Count II, Class A felony burglary; Count III, Class B felony conspiracy to commit burglary; and Count IV, Class B felony criminal confinement. Hunt initially pleaded not guilty, but on June 19, 2014, he withdrew his plea of not guilty and pleaded guilty to all four charges.
[¶5] The trial court held a sentencing hearing on July 31, 2014. At the hearing, the trial court considered the fact that Hunt accepted responsibility by pleading guilty without the benefit of a plea agreement and Hunt's age, twenty-six years, as mitigating circumstances. The trial court then found the following aggravating factors: Hunt's criminal history and especially his two prior burglary convictions, the fact that he had multiple victims, the age of the victims, the extensive injuries suffered by Mr. Neer, the fact that Hunt failed to seek medical attention for Mr. Neer after beating him, the fact that Hunt would not allow Mr. Neer to take his heart medication when he needed it, and the fact that Hunt was determined to be at a high risk to reoffend. After finding that the aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors, the trial court sentenced Hunt to fifty years for Count I, fifty years for Count II, twenty years for Count III, and twenty years for Count IV. The sentences for Counts I, II, and IV were to be served consecutively, and the sentence for Count III was to be served concurrently with the sentence for Count IV, for an aggregate sentence of 120 years.
[¶6] Hunt now appeals.
Discussion and Decision