By Nick Walton - nwalton@civitasmedia.com



Two co-defendants who broke into a local church this summer were ordered to serve jail time last week as part of a community control sentence.

During separate sentencing hearings held on Thursday and Friday, Joshua D. Hower and Bryce M. Whitt were both placed on community control for two years and will serve the first 60 days of this sentence in the Tri-County Regional Jail, Mechanicsburg.

Hower and Whitt were two of four co-defendants involved in breaking into the Renewed Strength Church, 4194 W. U.S. Route 36, on July 26. After gaining entry into the church by breaking a window, a safe, multiple musical instruments and equipment along with an unknown amount of money was taken.

Co-defendant Andrew M. Baker 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.

Baker pleaded not guilty to the charges on Nov. 2 and a scheduling conference is scheduled for Tuesday.

Co-defendant Cortney R. Hill, was placed on community control for two years on Oct. 27 and ordered to spend 30 days in jail. Due to jail overcrowding, the court placed Hill on electronic monitoring on Nov. 5 until Dec. 27 during which she is ordered to remain at a Sidney residence.

As part of community control, Hower and Whitt were ordered to perform 250 hours of community service by Oct. 31, 2016, write apology letters to victims in the case, observe a curfew of 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and not have contact with their co-defendants.

Hower was fined $1,050 and ordered to pay $5,782.45 in restitution while Whitt was fined $500 and ordered to pay $4,922.45 in restitution.

If community control is revoked, Hower faces a 17-month prison sentence while Whitt faces a 15-month prison sentence.

Baker, Hower and Whitt were also placed on community control in Clark County in October for similar crimes against churches in Clark County.

A probable cause affidavit filed in the Clark County Municipal Court outlines the sequence of events where the co-defendants spoke to law enforcement after they were caught breaking into the Renewed Strength Church. The affidavit states seven churches from Clark, Champaign and other counties were broken into as part of the group’s conduct.

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.