Church break-in co-defendant pleads guilty


By Nick Walton - nwalton@civitasmedia.com



One of four co-defendants charged with stealing from a local church this summer pleaded guilty to multiple charges last week.

Joshua D. Hower, 20, of Sidney, pleaded guilty to felony charges of breaking and entering and safecracking in addition to two fourth degree misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass Thursday. A sentencing hearing for Hower is scheduled for Nov. 5.

Hower is one of four people who were indicted for felony breaking and entering charges in August for allegedly breaking into and stealing from the Renewed Strength Church, 4194 W. U.S. Route 36.

Champaign County deputies responded to the church on July 26 on a reported breaking and entering of the church. After suspects gained entry into the church by breaking a window, a safe, multiple musical instruments and equipment and an unknown amount of money were reportedly taken.

Hower was charged with four counts of breaking and entering, two counts of criminal damaging or endangering and one count each of petty theft, theft, safecracking and possessing criminal tools for his involvement in the crime.

In addition to the Champaign County charges, Hower faces felony charges in Clark, Miami and Shelby counties.

A final pretrial conference for co-defendant Bryce M. Whitt is scheduled for Wednesday. Whitt, 20, of Urbana, is charged with three counts of breaking and entering and one count each of criminal damaging or endangering, theft, safecracking and possessing criminal tools.

Co-defendant Cortney R. Hill, 20, of Sidney was indicted on one count each of breaking and entering, criminal damaging or endangering, theft, safecracking and possessing criminal tools. She pleaded guilty to a fourth degree felony charge of safecracking on Sept. 30 and is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 27.

No hearings have been held for co-defendant Andrew Baker, 20, of St. Paris, since he was indicted in August.

Baker was indicted on three counts of breaking and entering, two counts of criminal damaging or endangering and one count each of petty theft, breaking and entering with a specification for forfeiture of property, theft with a specification for forfeiture of property, safecracking with a specification for forfeiture of property, possessing criminal tools and possessing criminal tools with a specification for forfeiture of property.

The grand jury indictment contends two of the breaking and entering charges stem from Baker trespassing at the Masonic Temple, 203 N. Main St., and Miller’s Quality Meats, 113 N. Main St., both in Christiansburg, on June 20 to commit a theft offense. The indictment also contends Baker and Hower trespassed in the Christian Worship Center, 3537 S. Elm Tree Road, St. Paris, July 18 and/or 19, breaking a window and committed a theft offense.

Baker is also facing felony charges in Clark County, according to the Clark County Clerk of Courts website.

By Nick Walton

nwalton@civitasmedia.com

Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.

Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.

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