VALPARAISO | Seven months after her home was burglarized, a Valparaiso woman told a judge Thursday morning she still has trouble sleeping, often checks doors to make sure they are locked and is now going to the expense of purchasing a home security system.
She and her husband lost more than $20,000 in the theft of mostly prescription medications and jewelry, including items with sentimental value.
The experience has also had a negative impact on their trust in others considering the man who pleaded guilty to the offense - James Mullins - was working for them at the time and was given enough trust to report the number of hours he was being paid, she said.
This violation of trust was among the concerns cited by Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper in her decision to sentence Mullins to six years in prison, followed by two years of probation.
"This man was trying to help you," Harper said after pointing out that Mullins has multiple criminal convictions and probation violations.
"You've been offered many opportunities to get straight and you simply prefer to stick a needle in your arm," Harper said.
Mullins apologized to the couple.
"I understand what I did was wrong," said the 48-year-old Valparaiso resident. "I'm sorry for betraying your confidence in me."
Harper told Mullins an apology is not enough.
"It does not do anything to help them sleep at night," Harper said.
Mullins pleaded guilty to a reduced felony charge of aiding in a burglary stemming from the April crime at a home in the 4200 block of Oakgrove Drive.
His co-defendant, Stacy Biggs of Valparaiso, reportedly pleaded guilty earlier this week and is a candidate for the county's drug court when sentenced Dec. 28.
Porter County Deputy Prosecutor Cheryl Polarek said she is tired of offenders using drug addiction as an excuse for their actions, pointing out that Mullins' brother died of a heroin overdose.
She said there is a tendency to forget what a big impact this type of crime has on victims.