COLUMBIA CITY — “What you did was terrifying. Three of you broke into a home, two with guns (BB guns), you with a knife — those facts are terrifying. It doesn’t make a lick of sense what you did. It was terrifying for no reason.”
Whitley Circuit Judge Matthew Rentschler expressed his displeasure with Trevor Bontrager in his sentencing hearing last month in a case that, even his attorney said, just didn’t make sense.
Bontrager was the lone adult, age 18, out of a trio who committed an armed robbery on South Whitley Street in Columbia City last October.
“I am befuddle as to what led them to this criminal act,” defense attorney Anthony Churchward said.
Whitley County Prosecutor D.J. Sigler said the crime was especially horrific since the victim did not know her attackers — strangers who broke into her home wearing dark clothes and bandanas covering their faces.
“This was an incredibly frightening and terrible crime that was committed,” Sigler said. “The victim has lost something that cannot be replaced.”
Bontrager admitted to burglary, a level 4 felony, in a previous hearing. Judge Rentschler sentenced him to 10 years at the Indiana Department of Corrections, with five to be served and the remaining suspended.
Bontrager was originally charged with a level 2 felony, which includes a sentencing range of up to 30 years.
According to the police report, three men, including Bontrager, entered the home on South Whitley Street wielding two BB guns while Bontrager had a kitchen knife. According to the report, the BB guns had the orange tips cut off and “looked like real guns.”
One of the victims, after hearing commotion in her living room, chased the individuals out of her house, and one of them grabbed the sound bar from her television on the way out the door.
Columbia City Police Officer Scott Valentic used social media to help locate the suspects.
Bontrager told police that he participated in the robbery because “they offered to pay him gas money and he needed the money to get back on his feet.”
“You should be careful who you are hanging out with,” Rentschler told Bontrager in the sentencing hearing.
The other two individuals were handled in juvenile court.