The culprit in a rash of daytime Marietta burglaries was sentenced to almost three years in prison Thursday.
The case drew to a close nearly eight months after Matthew Jones, 28, of 502 Warren St. entered at least seven different residences and businesses throughout February and March.
"The city of Marietta had a string of burglaries that were causing great stress to the Marietta Police Department, much like we are going through now," said Assistant Washington County Prosecutor Kevin Rings, referencing the unsolved, recent string of area break-ins.
The case had been negotiated throughout the summer, said Rings. Marietta Police officers believed Jones was responsible for at least eight burglaries but lacked evidence to connect Jones to all eight, he said.
The prosecutor's office struck a plea agreement that Jones would plead to two fourth-degree felony counts of trespassing in a habitation where a person is present or likely to be present. In return he would debrief Detective Troy Hawkins of all his criminal activity and could not be charged for any of the additional breaking and enterings to which he admitted, said Rings.
Jones pleaded guilty to the two counts on Sept. 7 and met with Hawkins Wednesday. He admitted to five of the additional six burglaries in which he was a suspect. He also stated he had stolen a donation jar from Salvation Army, Rings added.
"Detective Hawkins is convinced he is telling the truth," said Rings.
Jones was also connected to a December burglary at Barking Dog Books and Art in Marietta where some rare books, cash and a fine art print were stolen. As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors saw that the print was returned to the business.
"We know that incidents like this are really small change in terms of the overall crime scene in Marietta, but for a small business it has a big impact," said Marianne Monaghan, co-owner of Barking Dog. "We are very grateful to the Marietta police department and the prosecutors office for their persistence and diligence in this case."
Rings asked for a prison sanction because of the number of home affected by Jones' criminal activity.
Jones' attorney, Shawna Landaker, asked for community control sanctions so her client could adequately deal with his addiction problem. He has been seeing a drug counselor in Columbus, she said.
"I don't believe we would be here today if my client did not have an addiction problem," said Landaker.
Jones only spoke briefly to apologize to the victims.
Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane pointed to a long list of factors that he took into consideration before sentencing. These included financial and emotional distress to the victims, Jones' lengthy criminal history and the fact that he had previously failed to have success with a drug rehabilitation program.
"You have been to SEPTA before. We have worked with you in the past and it has not worked out," said Lane.
Jones' prior convictions included at least three other thefts, aggravated trespassing, safe cracking, domestic violence, disorderly conduct, possession of drugs and underage consumption.
Jones covered his face and appeared to briefly cry as Lane explained the sentence would be two 17-month prison sentences to be served consecutively. Jones was handcuffed and will be processed into the Correctional Reception Center in Orient.