Tuesday, December 06, 2016

City commissioner’s son pleads no contest in home invasion robbery

Posted December 6, 2016 12:01 am - Updated December 6, 2016 06:33 am
By JARED KEEVER jared.keever@staugustine.com
City commissioner’s son pleads no contest in home invasion robbery

The son of a St. Augustine city commissioner will spend the next year in prison for instigating a January home invasion robbery with the intention of recovering drugs that he claimed had been previously stolen from him.

Jacob Sikes Kline pleaded no contest on Monday morning — just days after his 20th birthday — to a single count of principal to home invasion robbery with a weapon for his role in the Jan. 25 robbery on West Jayce Way.

Judge Michael Traynor, going along with a plea agreement between Assistant State Attorney Chris Ferebee and Kline’s attorney Clyde M. Taylor III, sentenced Kline to 12 months and 3 days in state prison. After his release, Kline, who was sentenced as a youthful offender, will spend two years on community control followed by two years of drug offender probation in accordance with the agreement.

Kline, the son of St. Augustine Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline, is the last of five defendants to enter a plea in the robbery case.

Larry Thomas Travis Jr., 21, and Sean Edmund Riggs, 18, both of whom authorities said were armed when they entered the home, pleaded no contest earlier this year to single charges of home invasion robbery with a weapon and were sentenced to 40 months in prison to be followed by 72 months probation.

Ronald Tyrone Burch, 20, pleaded no contest to the same charge and was sentenced two years in state prison to be followed by four years of youthful offender probation.

Marcus Theodore Lewis, 19 — who authorities said drove Travis, Riggs and Burch to and from the home — has pleaded no contest to a single count of principal to home invasion robbery with a weapon and is expected to receive the same sentence as Burch when he appears for sentencing on Dec. 19.

All five were originally arrested on charges that reflected a home invasion robbery with a firearm, but those were later amended by the 7th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office in order to allow for lighter sentences. Ferebee has cited in previous hearings the young ages of the defendants and their lack of criminal histories as reasons for amending the charges.

Ferebee alluded to that decision in court on Monday, telling Traynor that after speaking with other co-defendants to learn Kline’s role in the crime and after consulting with the victims who said they didn’t want to see any “lives ruined” by stringent sentences, his office was able to arrive at the sentencing schemes for all involved.

The longer sentences for the two who were armed and the relative mid-range sentences for the two other participants properly reflected their levels of involvement, Ferebee said.

He told Traynor that he felt Kline’s one-year sentence was also appropriate because he did not originally request that the others arm themselves before going to the home to steal back his drugs for him.

“The problem for Mr. Kline is he eventually found out that they had guns,” Ferebee said, adding that once he found out through text messages, Kline continued to direct the others, telling them where in the home they might find the drugs.

That justified a substantial punishment but not necessarily a lengthy stay in prison, Ferebee argued.

“If he had originally orchestrated this plan and said, ‘Hey, let’s go in there and rob them — guns a’blazin’ — and steal some drugs back,’ we would be looking at a whole different posture,” he said.

Taylor seemed supportive of the agreed-upon sentence, but did tell Traynor he felt his client’s age, coupled with a “severe addiction,” clouded his judgment and led to poor decision making.

“I have no doubt that addiction is a plague that many people in our society have to deal with,” Traynor responded. “But, at the same time, a young man at 19 … needs to know the difference between right and wrong and I don’t think that being hooked on a drug is an excuse for a violent crime.”

“He is lucky that the state has looked at this whole situation in the way that it has because he and the other young adults that were involved in this, had they not, would have been facing much longer prison time, probably close to 20 years,” he added.

Kline told the judge that he had been addicted to benzodiazepines and opiates — a combination that he said created a “zombie-like state” —for about a year and that he credited getting into this level of trouble as putting him on the road to recovery.

Prior to Kline speaking, Traynor encouraged him to seek the help of the friends and members of his family who sat behind him in court that morning while he awaited sentencing.

“When you get out you will need their support,” he said. “And you will need their support while you are in custody.”

1 Comment
Tom Reynolds
Well I am glad that the SAO was understanding of the young ages. There is one thing. I hope the two who got 40 months get a reduction hearing. They should get a lighter sentence. May the Father Almighty guide them all to success after this mess ! I still think that less than a year would have been better justice.

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