Two in church break-in plead not guilty


By Nick Walton - nwalton@civitasmedia.com



Two of four people involved in stealing from a church pleaded not guilty Friday after they were indicted earlier this month.

Co-defendants Bryce M. Whitt and Cortney R. Hill pleaded not guilty to charges against them in connection to breaking into and stealing from a local church in July.

Champaign County Sheriff Deputies responded to the Renewed Strength Church, 4194 W. U.S. Route 36, 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.

After receiving a tip in reference to the stolen amplifier, a follow-up investigation occurred and investigators along with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant on a residence in Sidney. Champaign County investigators found the church’s safe and other items that may lead to involvement of other crimes in or around Champaign County.

Whitt, 20, of 809 Concord St., 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. As part of his bond, Whitt was placed on a personal recognizance bond on Aug. 19 and ordered to not have contact with his co-defendants.

Hill, 20, of 144 Brooklyn Ave., Sidney, is charged with one count each of breaking and entering, criminal damaging or endangering, theft, safecracking and possessing criminal tools. Her bond from the Champaign County Municipal Court proceedings was continued, including having no contact with her co-defendants.

No court date has been scheduled for co-defendant Andrew M. Baker who is charged with 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.

An arraignment hearing for Joshua D. Hower is scheduled to continue on Thursday. He is 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.

Two of the breaking and entering charges against Baker stem from him trespassing at the Masonic Temple, 203 N. Main St., and Miller’s Quality Meats, 113 N. Main St., both in Christiansburg, on June 20 with the purpose 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, between July 18 and 19, breaking a window and committing a theft offense.

In addition to the Champaign County charges, Baker, Hower and Whitt were charged in Clark County with breaking and entering in connection to church break-ins in that county. The Clark County Municipal Court’s website states all three have been indicted.

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.