Burglar receives 12-year sentence

A self-confessed drug addict with a criminal history dating back to when he was 9 has received the maximum sentence allowed.

Kurtis W. Findley, 30, of Columbus was ordered by Bartholomew Circuit Judge Stephen Heimann to serve 12 years with the Indiana Department of Corrections after pleading guilty Feb. 8 to one count of burglary as a Level 4 felony.

As part of a plea agreement, four other pending criminal cases that include two other burglaries committed last spring were dismissed against Findley, who is described by relatives as being homeless.

Although Findley refused to admit his guilt to the two other burglaries, the judge on Thursday ordered that $2,171 in restitution be shared by the victims of all three burglaries.

In explaining reasons for implementing the maximum sentence, Heimann said Findley’s criminal record contains 16 previous criminal convictions and 11 probation revocations.

Although the defendant blamed addictions for his problems, past crimes committed by Findley — a former amateur cage fighter — include threats and violent acts, the judge said.

In one previous case, Findley was accused of threatening to blow up his estranged father’s home in Jennings County and decapitate his stepmother, deputy prosecutor Kathleen Burns said.

On Thursday, Findley admitted his guilt regarding a May 5, 2015 burglary in the 13000 block of U.S. 31 North, where a backpack containing unspecified items was stolen from one residence and taken next door to another, according to a probable-cause affidavit.

A second suspect who was with Findley when he was arrested in that next-door residence was Samantha Knight, 24, of 715 Sycamore St.

While being questioned after the May 5 burglary, Knight told police she and Findley were also responsible for an April 28 burglary in the 1200 block of Franklin St, where laundry baskets were used to remove items, court affidavits state.

At the time of both break-ins, Findley was already out on bond for an April 13 burglary involving the theft of several electronics from a mobile home park on South National Road, court records state.

But as written in two affidavits, eyewitness testimony implicated Knight in carrying out the actual crimes more so than Findley.

However, those eyewitnesses did place Findley with Knight during most of the crimes, the affidavits stated.

Knight, who has been the defendant in seven criminal cases since 2012, served almost six months in jail before she was sentenced last fall to four years of probation. Her probation came after she was admitted into the Women Recovering With a Purpose program, court records state.

But Knight is also required to make $1,850 restitution to the victims, as well as pay several fees and court costs, according to documents from her Oct. 15, 2015 sentencing hearing.

Findley testified Thursday that his substance abuse problems escalated quickly after he began smoking marijuana when he was 12, Findley.

He was drinking alcohol at 13, taking methamphetamine and opiate pills at 18, and began using cocaine a year later, he told the judge.

After joining a gang for protection while in prison for an earlier conviction, Findley began taking heroin, he testified.

Although he has been provided substance abuse treatment at least seven different times, Findley testified that heroin and methamphetamine remain his drugs of choice.

“I’m an addict, I’m not recovering,” Findley testified Thursday. “If drugs were placed in front of me right now, temptation would win.”

The defendant also told the judge he has been administered Narcan, an antidote that briefly reverses the lethal effects of an opiate overdose, five different times.

However, he testified that after being released from the hospital after one of those overdoses, he was high on drugs within a half hour.

The defendant’s mother, Patti Prater, and his adult sister, Britney Venegas, testified Findley was diagnosed with a number of mental disorders since he was 4. He spent the rest of his childhood engaged in different forms of therapy and counseling, Prater said.

During his sentencing hearing, the subject of satanic horns tattooed on each of his temples was brought up several times. Findley said he considered them a tribute to his late grandmother, who nicknamed him ‘Little Devil.’

Findley will next be taken to an Indianapolis courtroom, where he will face another charge of breaking conditions of his probation.

The suspended sentence in Marion County Superior Court was imposed in Aug., 2014, after Findley plead guilty to criminal trespassing and resisting law enforcement, court records state.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.