A 22-year-old Newton man was sentenced to seven years in prison for multiple burglary and theft charges Wednesday in Jasper County District Court. The hearing prompted several victims to attend and share statements.
Aaron D. Reeves pleaded guilty earlier this month to second-degree theft, two counts of third-degree burglary and five counts of third-degree burglary of an unoccupied vehicle. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of a controlled substance — methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia charges following a string of vehicle break-ins.
A group of neighbors who formed a neighborhood watch page online realized they were victims of a string of car burglaries and thefts Aug. 30. Two of those neighbors felt compelled to attend the sentencing hearing, and they both stated they hoped Reeves would choose a better and more positive lifestyle after he served his time.
David Albee, of Newton, said a laptop was stolen from his property, which he used to conduct business. Albee said it had been difficult to function as a business without it.
When Albee was asked how the burglary made him feel, his answer was, “Violated — I live in a tight-knit community, kids are always out playing ... and to have a laptop stolen from a vehicle all of a sudden you have to be more aware.”
Albee said he now ensures his lights stay on at night and he installed a security camera.
“I would like to see the sentencing reflect the severity, we are having to change our pattern of life for a lifetime now,” Albee said.
Clint Gotta, of Newton, was also a victim of the burglary and theft.
“I went out and had found my garage had been entered and vehicles were opened, a bicycle laying outside which was out of character ... so I started looking and realized the vehicles had been gone through,” Gotta said. “This was at 4:15 in the morning.”
Gotta said he was missing a pellet gun, cash and change and a safe had been broken open.
“The fact we live in such a small community you are more trusting and more complacent and we got a security system installed now,” Gotta said. “You have to protect your possessions and your home, and I guess that’s my fear moving forward that it could have just as easy been my house instead of garage.”
He is more skeptical and more leery of people who don’t look familiar in the neighborhood, he said.
“The main hope is that he realizes the error in this line of choice or direction for your life,” Gotta said. “As I talk to my neighbors and knowing the community that we live in, more and more people are less trusting and are becoming vigilant and armed ... the majority of them have told me they are armed, so his line is not a good one — it could end very very horrible for all parties involved.”
Gotta said the property is really insignificant when comparing it to the well-being of all parties involved and what could have happened.
“That’s what I hope the court understands is this isn’t a first time offense, this has been a habitual decision or error ... and hopefully this is that moment or that wake up call because if that had been my house or my neighbors ... it could not only end severe but could have fatal consequences — that’s something I don’t want and I don’t think you want,” Gotta said.
Reeves’ sentence should help Reeves reflect on his choices and redirect him on a path that will bring him to better choices and outcomes that are a lot more “fruitful.” He wants Reeves to make good in society and have the opportunity to reach his full potential.
Reeves’ attorney, Marc Robert Wallace, asked Gotta if he believes his client should pay restitution when he gets the opportunity.
“More so than restitution I hope that the young man gets the opportunity to make good choices and doesn’t have to be in the situation to pay restitution ever again,” Gotta said. “That’s my hope so my desire is that nobody is hurt, you can see his mother’s hurt, there’s victims ... so restitution and the financial end of things is very insignificant here and that’s why I took the time today to come.”
Reeves addressed the court during his sentencing.
“Not that it’ll make anybody feel better or anything but I am apologizing to everybody that I victimized,” Reeves said. “To you sir, I would appreciate it if you allow me to pay you back ... it’s only right that I man up and pay it back ... I just want to do right and I want to see myself succeed and I want to get the right help that I need.”
Reeves was arrested around 12:30 a.m. Aug. 30 when Newton officer patrolled the area and noticed a car door open at a residence in the 500 block of East Second Street South. The officer also noticed the home’s garage door was slightly open.
Reeves was found hiding inside the garage, along with several items that had been reported stolen from vehicles in the area.
Contact Kayla Singletary at 641-792-3121 ext. 6533 or firstname.lastname@example.org