Two men get 54 months in La Center burglary

Judge calls incident 'egregious,' orders maximum sentence

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

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A Clark County judge sentenced two Tacoma men Wednesday to 54 months in prison for an interrupted burglary and police chase July 17 in La Center.

The homeowners' daughter interrupted the burglary as William R. Burns, who was armed, and Andre D. Lamar left the house in the 37500 block of Northeast Jenny Road. Inside, the men had left a path of senseless destruction, the floor littered with pulverized glass and family keepsakes destroyed, the homeowners said Wednesday.

Superior Court Judge Suzan Clark scrapped a negotiated deal between prosecutors and the defendants' attorneys. They agreed to a sentence of 48 months in exchange for the men's guilty plea Oct. 14 to first-degree burglary and unlawful possession of a firearm. Instead, she sentenced the men to the maximum of the state's standard range of 41 to 54 months.

"This was a very egregious burglary, one of the worst I've seen in a long time," Clark said. "You're fortunate no one is dead."

The homeowners appeared in court Wednesday and asked Clark to sentence the men to the maximum allowed under the law because of the destructive nature of the burglary.

The homeowners said in addition to stealing a shotgun and other items, the men broke glass throughout the house and randomly shot items in the house, including a family quilt and their granddaughter's princess night light pillow. All of the flooring in the house had to be replaced because glass was encrusted in the carpets of every room, they said. In total, the men caused $19,000 in damage.

Burns, aka "Ill Will," 19, and Lamar, 21, also will be required to pay the victims $18,954 in restitution and to serve 18 months of probation.

Gregg Schile, Burns' attorney, said the sentence was inequitable because a third accomplice, Jawuan T. Swift, 20, also of Tacoma, was sentenced to only 36 months in prison by Clark County Superior Court Judge John Nichols. Swift was the getaway driver during the burglary, according to police. Schile said his client also was the most cooperative of the trio.

"They all pleaded guilty to the same charges; the only difference was (criminal) history," Schile said. Lamar's attorney, Jack Peterson, also argued for a sentence of 48 months.

Burns has a significant criminal history, including two prior residential burglaries, thefts and possessing a weapon on school grounds. Lamar also has two prior residential burglaries, theft of a firearm, trafficking stolen property and second-degree theft on his criminal record. Swift was found guilty of residential burglary about a year ago.

La Center police were called to the residence around 12:30 p.m. July 17 after the homeowners' 32-year-old daughter arrived home and saw an unfamiliar silver Chevrolet Impala, which belonged to Swift's father, in the driveway.

Then she saw two men, Burns and Lamar, leaving the house and carrying her father's shotgun. She called 911 and followed the men into the La Center city limits, where police picked up the pursuit.

The chase began by vehicle and ended on foot, after the Impala stopped and the suspects scattered.