New London resident Jeremy Holmberg, 27, was sentenced Friday morning to 13 years in prison for masterminding a violent home invasion in March.
Holmberg had walked away from a "halfway program" before the crime on Greenwich Milan Townline Road. He had told people he "wanted to do some big crimes ... before settling on this hair-brained scheme," Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler said.
Three masked suspects entered the home and assaulted Brandon Taft, hitting him multiple times with a hammer. Testimony indicates they demanded to know where Taft, a suspected drug dealer, kept some money and marijuana.
One of the culprits dragged Taft's fiancee, April Spain, from her bed and forced her to crawl into the living area of the couple's mobile home. Both victims were duct-taped with their heads covered.
"Somebody like that is pure evil," said Taft's mother, Tamie. She said the state "didn't prove he (Holmberg) swung the hammer, but he stood by when it happened."
"This is not the wild, wild west. No matter what my son admitted to, my son didn't deserve to be beaten," she said.
Leffler said the suspects threatened to kill the couple's 2-month-old baby, who slept through the ordeal. The prosecutor said using the duct-tape to bound and gag Spain and Taft was unnecessary, but was done to terrorize them.
"The kidnapping charges are entirely justified," Leffler said.
In September, a jury found Holmberg guilty of two counts of kidnapping and one count each of aggravated burglary and robbery. He was acquitted of aggravated robbery and two charges of felonious assault.
Holmberg downplayed his role when he spoke to the court Friday.
"I was never at the house," he said. "I played a small role in the crime. ... My actions did result in what happened."
The defendant has had nine adult criminal convictions in a decade. The first was Sept. 20, 1997 on a charge of corrupting another with drugs. Before the March 18 home invasion, Holmberg had been sentenced to three years in prison for attempted aggravated robbery.
Visiting Common Pleas Judge Burt Griffin pointed out Holmberg has either been arrested or convicted on various charges when he wasn't in prison over the last 10 years.
"He has been to prison twice once for 10 months," Griffin said.
"This was a calculated offense," he continued. "This was organized criminal activity as defined by the statute."
Huron County Sheriff's Detective Sgt. Dane Howard investigated the case.
"I was hoping for more (prison time)," he said. "The key in all this is to protect the public and punish him as well. ... It's important to separate him from society for as long as possible."
Howard hopes Holmberg will move away from Huron County when he is released from prison.
After his release, Holmberg will be on five years of parole on the aggravated burglary charge and three years for the other convictions.