MIAMI COUNTY — Co-defendants guilty of a home invasion were sentenced on Monday as part of plea agreements with the state in Miami County Common Pleas Court.
James E. Benton pleaded guilty to first-degree felony aggravated burglary with a gun specification, second-degree felonious assault, and conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary in May. The joint recommendation with the state includes Benton to serve seven years in prison, three years mandatory due to the gun specification.
Benton was one of multiple suspects involved in the armed robbery of a Union Township home on Sept. 30. During the home invasion, co-defendant Keason Twitty was shot by the homeowner outside of the home on North Montgomery County Line Road. Twitty was sentenced to serve seven years in prison for his involvement.
The homeowner called 911 and said a group of men kicked in the door of his house and shot at him. It is believed the home was targeted for narcotics. The homeowner told deputies he got his own gun and fired back, hitting Twitty in the leg.
Benton apologized for his actions, stating it was “a bad time in my life” and “I should have never been there.”
“I wish it had never happened,” said Benton, as he wiped tears from his eyes.
Judge Jeannine Pratt reviewed Benton’s criminal record, calling it “atrocious” and told Benton he was lucky no one “ended up dead in this matter.”
Pratt also said she was mindful of the state’s joint recommendation of seven years and if he were ever to appear in her court again she would likely sentence him to more time in prison.
“Without (the plea agreement) this could have been a lot worse for you,” Pratt said.
Benton received 292 days of jail credit and will serve five years mandatory post-release control.
The “get-away driver,” Kristian Martinez, 23, of Phillipsburg, was sentenced to serve four years in prison for his role in the home invasion following Benton’s hearing.
Martinez entered a plea of guilty to second-degree felony conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary in March. The plea was part of a joint recommendation with the state for Martinez to serve four years in prison. Martinez could be eligible for early release. The agreement also dismissed a charge of first-degree aggravated burglary.
Martinez apologized to the victim, the court and the community for his role in the incident. Martinez said he wasn’t working and he was hanging out with the wrong crowd at the time of the incident.
Judge Pratt reviewed Martinez’s record, which includes a pending OVI charge. Judge Pratt told Martinez because he was the driver in the incident, he too, played a major role in the home invasion. Martinez is eligible for early release if he participates in prison programs. He will also serve three years of mandatory post-release control upon his release.
In other news:
• The alleged ring leader of the home invasion Eric Santos, 22, of Dayton, pleaded guilty to first-degree felony aggravated burglary with a three-year mandatory gun specification, second-degree felony conspiracy to commit burglary, and felonious assault with a joint recommendation agreement on July 20. He agreed to serve seven years on all charges, with the state’s recommendation. He will be sentenced Aug. 21. While those two prison terms will be running concurrently, Twitty will also serve an additional three years in prison consecutive with those prison terms for a gun specification in the indictment due to guns being used during the burglary for a total of seven years in prison.
Corey L. Dixon, 18, received the same plea agreement with the state and was also sentenced last week. Dixon will serve a total of seven years in prison. Dixon and Twitty will each then have five years of mandatory post-release control once they are released from prison. They each could be eligible for early release.