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Local National Guardsman enters Teen Challenge after burglary conviction

Cary Ashby • Dec 7, 2011 at 11:00 PM

Convicted burglar Mitchell F. Brewer told the judge he's been trying to turn his life around.

The 23-year-old Norwalk man might have a chance to do that; he volunteered Tuesday to enter the Teen Challenge program in Youngstown. The Christian-centered program lasts one year to 14 months.

"I think it would be a good program for you," Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway told Brewer.

The Starfish Project raises funds for people to be accepted into Teen Challenge, whose mission is to "provide youth, adults and families with an effective and comprehensive Christian, faith-based solution to life-controlling drug and alcohol problems in order to become productive members of society," according to teenchallengeusa.com.

Brewer pleaded guilty in October to a July 26 burglary on Clifton Street that was investigated by the Norwalk Police Department. It was his first felony as an adult.

Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Dina Shenker said the defendant, who has a brief adult misdemeanor record, was under the influence of Percocet and marijuana at the time of the break-in.

Brewer's mother talked briefly about her son's drug use after Tuesday's sentencing hearing.

"He's been doing straight drugs since 2008 when he returned from Kuwait," she said. She mentioned her son has been "completely drug-free" since being jailed for 132 days.

"He's weaned off all of his medication," the mother said.

Brewer is a member of the U.S. Army National Guard.

"They're fully participating in his being part of Teen Challenge," Brewer's mother said.

Conway talked about the burglary, saying he doesn't "take it lightly" when someone breaks into a resident's home. However, the judge said he suspects this was a one-time incident.

Brewer's mother said she's thankful that people have been patient enough to allow the court process to take its course.

"I have faith this will be a life-changing event for him," she said about her son's involvement in Teen Challenge.

As part of his three years of probation, Brewer must complete the Teen Challenge program as well as obtain and maintain full-time employment.

He also was ordered to undergo substance abuse evaluation and counseling and random drug screens. Brewer also was ordered to pay $75 in restitution to a local business and isn't allowed on the victim's property for the next three years.

If he violates the terms of his probation, he faces three years in prison.

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