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Man sentenced in church, library break-ins

April 14, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A man convicted of breaking into nine churches and two libraries was sentenced Wednesday in Franklin County Court to two to 10 years in state prison and lectured on his selection of victims by Judge John R. Walker.

"His chances of getting into heaven are damn slim after breaking into a church," Walker said before sentencing Ronnie Lynn Stiver, 29, of 4622 Washington Meadows Lane, Waynesboro, Pa.

Stiver pleaded guilty Feb. 25 to charges of institutional vandalism, burglary, theft and criminal trespass, according to Assistant District Attorney Bret Palmer. He and Justin L. Wagaman were arrested by Washington Township police at 2 a.m. on Aug. 16, 2004, inside the Blue Ridge Summit (Pa.) Free Library, according to court records.

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Police said the two also had broken into the Ragged Edge Library in Guilford Township on the night of Aug. 3-4, and the nine churches on the nights of Aug. 9 and 13.

According to court records, the churches were Greencastle Baptist Church, 2377 Buchanan Trail West, Greencastle, Pa.; Hollowell Brethren in Christ Church, 14807 Hollowell Church Road, Waynesboro; Miller's Mennonite Church, address unavailable; Good Shepherd Ministries, address unavailable; Blue Rock United Brethren in Christ Church, 7885 Mentzer Gap Road, Waynesboro; West Brethren In Christ Church, 2665 Lincoln Way West, Chambersburg; Pleasant View Mennonite Church, 346 Warm Spring Road; and Grace Brethren Church, 315 Edwards Ave.

Defense attorney Clinton Barkdoll said Stivers had written letters of apology to all the victims, but at the time of the crimes he was "prepared to do anything to support a drug problem."

"The Devil put you up to breaking into churches," Walker said. "He sure gets a lot of disciples when people get hooked on drugs."

"I feel like coming over there and rapping you on the side of the head," said Walker, who keeps a large wooden butcher's mallet on the bench.

Palmer said Stiver has a long criminal record, which included three years in federal prison for counterfeiting.

"By God, you'll be able to write a travel guide" about prisons, Walker said to Stiver.

Walker gave Stiver 240 days credit for time served since his arrest and fined him $450. Restitution to the churches and libraries was set at $3,512.

"Ronnie, you've got to do a little soul-searching while you're up there" in prison, Walker said.

Wagaman, 22, of 309 N. Potomac St., Waynesboro, and another alleged accomplice, Brittany Thomas, 19, of 4622 Washington Meadow Lane, are awaiting trial in their cases, according to court records.

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