Portage burglary victim objects to plea agreement

2013-03-08T19:15:00Z 2013-03-09T23:48:05Z Portage burglary victim objects to plea agreementBob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com

VALPARAISO | Barbara Suarez objected Friday to the acceptance of a plea agreement that could result in just more than a year behind bars for the 27-year-old man responsible for burglarizing and reportedly setting fire to the Portage law office of her late husband.

"It's not good," she said, "It's not fair. It's not justice."

John McKee was sentenced to six years behind bars with three years suspended and to be served on formal probation.

The remaining period of incarceration can be completed in half the time, and McKee will be eligible to serve the final year at a halfway house if he can prove he can afford the weekly fee of $135. He also was sentenced to an additional six months behind bars on a probation violation.

McKee was charged with with arson and burglary after police said he took shopping carts full of electronic equipment March 21 from a building at 2588 Portage Mall that housed a computer business and law office.

The arson charge was dropped as part of the plea agreement.

"John McKee, you caused a lot of heartache for a lot people," Suarez said.

She said that not only did the crime put firefighters at risk and contribute to the emotional pain of her son, but the flames destroyed items belonging to her late husband, William Suarez.

"They are something we needed," Suarez said.

Deputy Prosecutor Trista Hudson defended the plea agreement as appropriate considering McKee has no prior criminal record other than the revocation, he is young, he admitted to the burglary and he received the maximum sentence for a Class C felony burglary charge.

McKee blamed his actions on drug addiction.

"That is completely out of my character," he said. "I plan on getting as much help as I can for my addiction."

Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa said he is seeing an increasing number of offenders blaming drugs for their crimes and he is not convinced.

"That's not an excuse for these kinds of actions," he said.

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