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Pa. man sentenced on burglaries

July 24, 2003|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Saying he had "terrorized" his victims, Franklin County Judge Carol Van Horn on Wednesday sentenced a Quincy, Pa., man to up to 30 years in prison for a series of daylight burglaries last year.

Steven Thomas Christopher, 36, of 8604 Anthony Highway, Apt. C., will have to spend a minimum of nine years and nine months in prison before he is eligible for parole, under the sentence Van Horn handed down.

Christopher was sentenced on two first-degree felony counts of burglary and one first-degree felony count of attempted burglary. He faced 30 charges in 13 separate cases prior to his plea agreement in June, according to court records.

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"I tried everything to get money just so we could eat," Christopher told Van Horn. He said he could not work because he had crushed a thumb on the job. "I had my back up against the wall," he said.

"I don't believe you," said Van Horn.

The judge said Christopher terrorized his victims, noting one case in which he tried to break into a house while a pregnant woman and her 5-year-old son were home.

The woman went into premature labor that day, Van Horn said.

"The effect of your conduct on these victims goes forward to this date," Van Horn told Christopher. She fined him $900 and ordered him to pay approximately $4,500 in restitution on the various cases.

Defense attorney James Reed had asked Van Horn to run the sentences concurrently so that Christopher could serve a minimum sentence of five years and be able to start making restitution.

"Reading their letters, I think they're more concerned that he's locked up," Van Horn said of victim letters included in the pre-sentence report. When Christopher later said he had not read all of the victims' letters, she ordered him to do so.

Assistant District Attorney Nancy Meyers said Christopher had an extensive prior criminal record dating back to 1985, including two felony and five misdemeanor convictions.

Christopher had burglarized or attempted to break into several homes in March of 2002, according to Pennsylvania State Police and court records. Those included break-ins at homes on Shoestring Hill and Capital Hill roads in Quincy Township on March 20, on Oak Road in Quincy Township on March 27, and a break-in at a Coral Ridge Road home that same day.

Van Horn said occupant of the Coral Ridge Road home was taking a shower at the time and discovered his house had been broken into afterward.

On June 21, 2002, Christopher tried to break into a Richmond Road home in Metal Township, Pa., according to the affidavit of probable cause filed by the Pennsylvania State Police. In that case, a pregnant woman and her son saw a man try to enter the front door and then the back door before she yelled and scared him away.

Charges against Christopher that were dismissed as a result of the plea agreement included retaliation against a witness, flight to avoid prosecution, theft by deception and defrauding public assistance, according to court records.

Christopher has charges pending in Adams County, Pa., for a series of burglaries there, according to Meyers.

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