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Man sentenced for his role in burglary spree

December 13, 2006|by PEPPER BALLARD

A Williamsport man was ordered Tuesday in Washington County Circuit Court to serve 25 years in prison for his part in a county burglary spree this summer during which a dog was beaten with a hammer.

James Richard Farris III, 21, of 15384 Clear Spring Road, entered an Alford plea in October to aggravated animal cruelty, and pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree burglary and three counts of felony theft in the June spree.

Under an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt, but acknowledges that the prosecution has sufficient evidence to convict.

Circuit Judge John H. McDowell ordered that Farris serve a series of consecutive sentences on those charges, including a maximum three years for aggravated animal cruelty, and a concurrent four-year sentence for violating probation.

"The people you victimized have written me ... The security in their homes and in their lives has been destroyed ..." McDowell told Farris before sentencing him.

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Farris apologized earlier for his actions.

"I'm sorry for what I did," he said. "I know there is no excuse for what I did. I wish I could take it back, but I can't."

McDowell ordered Farris to pay more than $11,000 in restitution in the burglaries.

Farris' co-defendant, Christopher Lee Nicely, 23, pleaded guilty in October to three counts of felony theft, two counts of first-degree burglary and one count of misdemeanor theft. Nicely is to be sentenced Dec. 19, according to court records.

The first reported burglary was June 21 in Williamsport, and the men were caught in the act of another burglary June 28 in Williamsport, Washington County Sheriff's Department Investigator Greg Alton has said.

On the day they were apprehended, Nicely allegedly admitted to the pair's involvement in two other June 28 burglaries, and deputies connected the pair to burglaries June 23 and June 26, Alton has said. Maryland State Police charged Nicely in connection with a separate burglary, Alton has said.

On Monday, Circuit Judge W. Kennedy Boone III ordered that Farris serve a three-year sentence for violation of probation in a separate case, according to court records. That sentence was ordered to be served consecutive to any sentence McDowell ordered Farris to serve for the combined cases Tuesday, according to court records.

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