Michael Simers, of Milan, leaves the courtroom after his plea agreement was rejected by a judge Thursday, May 16.
Mike Perleberg-Eagle 99.3
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – Concerns over the length of prison sentence caused a Dearborn County judge to reject a plea agreement for a serial burglar Thursday.
Michael W. Simers, 40, of Osgood, and Robert L. Huntington, 41, of Milan, were arrested in November after police connected them to a series of business burglaries in Dearborn and Ohio counties.
The Dearborn County properties the men struck included Panama Pete’s Tanning Spa in Aurora, Laughery Valley Ag Co-op in Dillsboro, and an auto parts business owned by Harold Whisman in Dillsboro. In Ohio County, the dup targeted TLC Car Wash, Rockies Bar, and the Rising Sun American Legion.
Huntington was sentenced to 20 years in prison by Dearborn Superior Court II Judge Sally Blankenship on May 2. He’ll serve more time once sentenced in Ohio County court.
Simers appeared in Blankenship’s court for his sentencing Thursday after he and prosecutors reached a plea agreement. However, Blankenship rejected the agreement following discussion over whether Simers would serve his convictions on consecutive or concurrent prison terms.
Simers’ public defender, John Watson, told the judge that he understood the agreement to result in an eight year sentence for his client. There was also discussion over exactly how much restitution Simers would be required to pay.
In her rejection, Blankenship indicated that the time was insufficient, especially considering his past convictions of theft and burglary in Dearborn and Ripley counties.
Two of the business owners appeared in court to give victim impact statements. Harold Whisman said Simers and Huntington took thousands of dollars in classic muscle car parts that the 68-year-old considered his retirement and 401K.
“These idiots junked all that stuff out for only $1,000,” Whisman told the court, adding that the burglary occurred while he was in Florida for his mother’s funeral.
“He’s still stealing from me. He’s stealing my time right now,” he said.
Panama Pete’s Tanning Spa owners Bige and Konnie Couch called the burglary of their small business disgraceful.
“I want you to explain why you made us a target,” Konnie Couch asked Simers. “Because of you, I had to spend additional money for upgraded security.”
Couch said she no longer feels safe inside her business and now escorts her employees out at night.
“I apologize,” Simers responded.
Dearborn County Deputy Prosecutor Joe Kaiser told Blankenship that obvious harm was done to the victims based on the testimony they provided Thursday.
Simers remains held in the Dearborn County Law Enforcement Center until his newly scheduled jury trial July 16. A new plea agreement could still be reached. He also has a pending case in Ohio County for the alleged burglaries there.