MAHONING COUNTY Term upsets burglar
The man was upset at getting three years more than he bargained for.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- David McKee said he can't recall breaking into any of the homes he pleaded guilty to burglarizing.
He'd gone on a rampage induced by alcohol and drugs, including some pills he said a friend had given him.
"Were those burglary pills?" Judge R. Scott Krichbaum asked him.
"I don't know," McKee said. "They could have been. He had a prescription."
McKee, 51, of Parkman, pleaded guilty Aug. 1 in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to two counts of burglary and three counts of receiving stolen property. Judge Krichbaum sentenced him this week to seven years in prison.
The sentence didn't sit well with McKee because it exceeded the four-year recommendation made by assistant prosecutor Patrick Pochiro as part of the plea agreement.
A four-year sentence would have made McKee eligible for shock probation after serving six months in prison. Now he's not eligible for at least five years.
Judge Krichbaum said there's no way he would have considered releasing McKee early anyway.
"Mr. McKee, I can't have any sympathy for you," the judge said. "The only thing that keeps me from dropping the floor out from underneath you is this request from the authorities."
Prosecutors had requested the four-year term because McKee has cooperated with them and police in investigating another, unrelated robbery.
Assistant prosecutor Robert Andrews said McKee has given them information about a case in which a woman was stabbed and robbed, and has agreed to testify when that suspect goes to trial.
Judge Krichbaum said he appreciates McKee's cooperation with police but refused to go along with the recommended sentence because he felt it was too low. Under Ohio law, judges have the final say on sentencing, despite what's recommended in a plea agreement.
"There is nothing worse than breaking into someone's home and violating the sanctity of his castle," the judge said.
"In my mind it is the ultimate slap in the face, the ultimate intrusion, and it deserves to be severely punished."
Pochiro said McKee committed a rash of burglaries all over the county late last year and early this year.
McKee had pleaded guilty to identical charges in April, but immediately withdrew the plea when Judge Krichbaum said he would not go along with a recommended four-year sentence. At that time, he had not cooperated with authorities in the other crime.