Monday, May 2, 2016

Antoine McDuffie (Photo Supplied) (AP)
Elkhart man sentenced in Goshen home invasion
Posted on March 27, 2014 at 3:13 p.m.

GOSHEN — A man accused of breaking into a mobile home and holding a family inside before robbing them, received his sentence Thursday, March 27, in the Elkhart Circuit Court.

Antoine McDuffie, 21, was sentenced to 48 years in prison, with four years suspended.

McDuffie was one of five co-defendants charged in the case. According to initial reports, the five men broke into the home the early morning of Nov. 4, 2013.

During the sentencing hearing McDuffie's attorney, Fay Schwartz, told the court the group planned to break into the home. They wore masks and pointed flashlights at the victims in an attempt to get money.

Deputy prosecuting attorney David Francisco told the court the men also brought guns, two of which were charged, into the house and pointed them at the victims.

The victims in the house were two women, one who was pregnant, and two children. Francisco said the men tied up the pregnant woman and put her in a corner.

Additionally, Francisco said the men targeted the house because it had a nice car parked outside. The men speculated the family had money or drugs, Francisco said. 

"The home is of modest means," he said. "(The victims) didn't have any money or drugs."

When the men heard the victims didn't have money in the house, they took their electronics.

Francisco listed other aggravators, including that McDuffie was under the influence of alcohol and synthetic marijuana. 

"Synthetic marijuana is becoming a giant problem in our county," Francisco said, adding that many of the crimes seen in circuit court were either committed while the suspect was under the influence of the drug or involved robbing an establishment that sells synthetic marijuana. 

Francisco also compared the case with an attempted home invasion Oct. 3, 2012, that resulted in the death of 21-year-old Danzele Johnson when the homeowner shot at the teens attempting to break into his house, saying the conduct in the Goshen home invasion case was just as nefarious as the previous one.   

Following their arrest, the men were charged with robbery while armed with a deadly weapon, burglary, criminal confinement and conspiracy to commit burglary.

McDuffie pleaded guilty to all charges the day of his trial on March 3.

During his sentencing hearing, McDuffie apologized to the court, but added that he did not know there were people in the house when the group decided to break in. 

When Circuit Court Judge Terry Shewmaker asked him why he followed his friends in committing the crime and why he didn't stop them, McDuffie said he didn't know. 

"I didn't have the courage to (tell them)," he told the judge.

The trial date for McDuffie's co-denfendants -- Armando Gonzalez, 18; Montrail Williams, 20; Davon Crenshaw, 19; and Matthew Allen, 19 -- was rescheduled for June 30.