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Final suspect from burglary sentenced to 12 years

by Andrew Maciejewski - amaciejewski@h-ponline.com

The final suspect in an Independence Day burglary where the victim was tied up, strangled and held up for $2,000 worth of trading cards was convicted Monday.

James Orian Winters, 36, pleaded guilty to burglary, conversion, criminal confinement and strangulation, in exchange for the dismissal of a robbery charge. Circuit Court Judge Davin Smith sentenced Winters to 12 years in prison, no probation.

Huntington County chief deputy prosecutor Jeremy Nix said the court imposed the sentence the State requested.

Winters was the last suspect arrested, and Nix said Winters was on parole out of Illinois during the burglary.

“The sentencing of Winters concludes the charges for the July 4, 2018 burglary, confinement and strangulation,” Nix said. “The victim in this case was lucky that he was not more severely injured, and he is relieved that Winters was brought to justice before anyone else could be hurt.”

The two other suspects were convicted and sentenced after taking plea deals.

Lawrence Wilson was sentenced to nine years, with eight years and 70 days suspended, and Kye M. Young was sentenced to 9 years with three years suspended to be served on probation, according to court records. Young and Wilson's charges of strangulation and robbery were dismissed, according to their plea agreements.

On July 4, 2018, police responded to the 800 block of East Market Street. The victim told police he was shooting fireworks off with Young before he was attacked. Young admitted to unlocking the door to allow Winters into the residence, since the victim told police he remembered locking the door behind him on his way into the apartment, according to the plea.

While the pair was playing Magic, a card game, Winters entered the apartment and snuck up behind the victim before police say he grabbed him by the neck, ripped his keys from his pocket, wrapped something around his face, tied his legs and hands, forced him to the ground and continued to grab him by the neck, allegedly saying, “go to sleep,” according to interviews with the victim in the affidavit.

Police say the suspects planned the robber using Facebook messenger, and one of the messages recovered said, “We go inside. I’ll leave the door unlocked,” according to the affidavit. Police say Young messaged someone in the group about killing the victim to avoid conviction.

Police were able to locate Winters after they received a tip that Winters was staying in Gary. Huntington police say Winters has an active warrant for his arrest related to a parole violation after being convicted of homicide.