Man with mental challenges gets two years for break-ins
Posted: October 30, 2012
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — A Georgia man who called 911 on himself after damaging multiple local downtown businesses will serve two years in jail.
William Jeremy Miles, 25, of Hazelhurst, Ga., appeared Monday in Winchester Circuit Court with Assistant Public Defender Kathleen Griffin for his sentencing hearing.
He previously entered Alford pleas of guilt Sept. 14 to two counts of breaking into and entering a building with the intent to commit larceny, one count of breaking into and entering a building with the intent to commit a felony, three counts of destruction of property and one count of petty larceny.
In an Alford plea, a defendant maintains his or her innocence while acknowledging that the prosecution has enough evidence to obtain a conviction.
Judge John E. Wetsel Jr. sentenced Miles to a combined 10 years in prison for the charges, with all but two years suspended, and seven years of supervised probation.
Miles also must pay more than $150,000 in restitution for the damage he caused downtown March 11.
As part of his probation, Miles must live with an adult family member, cannot leave the state of Georgia, is not permitted to have a driver’s license and may not own a firearm.
City Commonwealth’s Attorney Alexander R. Iden said after the hearing that Miles’ guilty pleas and sentencing were not part of a plea agreement.
Miles called 911 on himself at 5:39 a.m. March 11 to report that he had broken into the West Side Barber Shop at 37 W. Boscawen St. and had a severe laceration to his leg, according to police reports.
When officers arrived, they found him outside the business, intoxicated and bleeding profusely.
According to police, Miles entered the barbershop through a window. He told officers he did so because he was cold and that he had attempted to start a fire in the business.
Mingle Hair Salon at 35 W. Boscawen also had broken windows, according to police.
Miles was taken into custody and to Winchester Medical Center, where he was treated for his leg injury.
During their investigation, officers discovered that he had broken into two other businesses and received the cut while inside one of them, a police report stated.
The then-Daily Grind coffee shop at Boscawen and Loudoun streets had been entered and had a large window broken; another shop had a flower pot thrown through its window; and the Masonic Temple at 118 N. Loudoun was broken into from its rear kitchen entrance.
Larry Renner, a treasurer and trustee at the Masonic Temple, testified Monday about the building’s damage.
He said all three levels were damaged and provided pictures for Wetsel. The majority of the damage was said to have consisted of blood, feces and damage to a fresco painting on the third floor.
Several members of Miles’ family testified about his medical issues, medication management and his limited mental capacity.
“I’m sorry the damage is done, but I wish everyone would understand his mental status,” Brenda Miles — Miles’ mother — testified.
“Please understand Jeremy is not a violent person,” she added, crying.
Miles said her son has rarely ever left her supervision and because of his medical issues, he is not good with change and tends to run when he is scared.
Miles also testified, though he said he did not remember much about that night.
He said he thought he was being followed by someone at the bar who he thought wanted to hurt him and began frantically searching for a phone to call for help.
Miles said he was cold, lightheaded and just wanted help — so he wandered from business to business searching for a phone.
At one point, he said he saw a car and tried to ask them for help, but they sped away.
“I just thought, no one’s going to help me,” he said.
Miles was in Winchester after driving a tractor-trailer to the city as part of his job. He received his commercial driver’s license as part of a program that tries to integrate people of limited mental capacity back into society.
“He was making an attempt to have a regular life and it didn’t work out,” said Miles’ brother James.
He also explained about his brother’s medical issues and said he never would have had any malicious intent, that he was just scared and that his medications had mixed with alcohol the night of the incident.
“These aren’t excuses, these are just the circumstances,” he said.
Griffin asked that Wetsel sentence Miles to probation and send him back to Georgia.
Iden pointed out that it might be easy to blame others for Miles’ behavior, but that ultimately he needed to take responsibility.
Wetsel was appalled that Miles had a commercial driver’s license in the first place, and said the case could have easily been a lot worse than property damage.
“It’s just shocking,” he said, adding that it was especially so given that Miles had a history of seizures. “This is an individual who needs guidance.”
Miles apologized to the court and said he never meant to hurt anyone.
“You’re not a bad man, but you’re a dangerous man,” Wetsel said.
— Contact Melissa Boughton at email@example.com