District Court Judge Ed McLean sentenced Erik Robert Hunt on Wednesday to 15 years in the state prison for squatting in the home of a military service member deployed to Iraq, for stealing and selling his belongings, and for then going on a crime spree while awaiting trial on the initial charges.
In court, Hunt, 39, said, "I was not out to harm a man that served our country."
Rather, he said he and his girlfriend were homeless and looking for a place "to get warm." But, he acknowledged, he ended up staying in the residence for two or three weeks, during which time he barricaded the front door and sold some of the man's belongings, including televisions and tools.
While prosecutors initially agreed to a plea deal that would have sent Hunt to prison for five years, with another five suspended, 22 days after his release from jail he stole a truck as well as items from Kmart, Walmart and Universal Athletic and was in possession of methamphetamine.
That led prosecutors to revoke their initial plea deal for burglary, and it led to additional charges of burglary, theft and possession of dangerous drugs.
Deputy County Attorney Kelli Fivey claimed in court that Hunt's immediate return to crime after his initial release demonstrated that "he just does not care" about abiding by the law or the harm he did to his victims.
Though Hunt apologized for his actions, said drug use was at the heart of his misbehavior and claimed he'd proven he could be sober before, McLean was not convinced to be lenient.
Rejecting the defense attorney's argument that Hunt serve two concurrent 10-year prison sentences, McLean ordered those sentences to be served consecutively, with the last five years suspended.
McLean called Hunt's conduct "unconscionable" before chastising him for taking advantage of the victim while he was "overseas serving the country."
"I don't what the answer is, but it's not the way you're headed," McLean said.