VALPARAISO | A New Chicago man convicted of setting fire to his ex-girlfriend’s car after she broke up with him was sentenced Friday to 19.5 years in prison.
Brandon Scroggin, 28, was found guilty in August of felony arson, intimidation, receiving stolen auto parts and being a habitual offender.
Scroggin told Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa he wanted to appeal the sentence. Scroggin then refused the right to a court-appointed attorney and said he would represent himself.
Alexa responded, “The appeals court will knock you out of there faster than you can say ‘jackrabbit.’”
Scroggin was accused of setting fire to cars belonging to the Portage woman and her brother after she ended their relationship in March.
While in jail awaiting trial, Scroggin was charged with intimidation after violating a no-contact order by calling the woman from the lockup on two occasions and reminding her he would eventually get a release date.
The woman testified Friday that she felt those calls were threatening. She also said Scroggin’s violent actions had resulted in her losing custody of her son to her ex-husband.
During the hearing, Scroggin occasionally turned to look at the woman as she sat in the courtroom.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Trista Hudson said Scroggin was an offender who was “the worst of the worst” due to his “propensity to manipulate and control people.” He has accumulated 21 arrests in his 10 years as an adult — five of which resulted in felony convictions and eight in misdemeanor convictions involving theft, drugs, alcohol, anger and battery.
Scroggin’s attorney, Bob Harper, said Scroggin had a tough upbringing. He was passed from foster home to foster home from a young age, had a mother who overdosed on heroin when Scroggin was 12 years old and moved out of his alcoholic father's home at 14 years old, Harper said.
“The way he was raised is no excuse, but it may be considered somewhat in mitigation,” Harper said.
Alexa disagreed, saying he had never before in his career read a probation officer’s report like Scroggin’s, which claimed that Scroggin “is not viewed as suitable for life in a free society.”
“Nothing I’ve seen will convince me to modify this sentence,” Alexa said.