Winona Lake man sentenced to 120 years in New Paris home invasion

Jeffrey Hunt pleaded guilty to four counts accusing him of breaking into a home and beating an elderly man with a tire iron.

Posted on March 27, 2014 at 2:08 p.m.

GOSHEN — A man involved in a violent home invasion Nov. 4, 2013, in New Paris, was sentenced three weeks after he pleaded guilty.

Jeffrey Hill, 43, received a sentence of 120 years in prison. Earlier in March, Hill admitted to breaking into the home of Don and Beverly Neer, who were 82 and 79 years of age at the time, and beating Don Neer with a tire iron before taking the couple's money, guns and electronics.

According to court files, Hill and his son, Jeffery Hunt, knocked at the Neer's home and waited until Don Neer went to check who was outside. As Neer closed the door, the two men forced their way into the house.

Beverly Neer testified during the sentencing hearing, saying Hunt hit her husband numerous times with a tire iron. She told the court she saw her husband's shirt soaked in blood as a result of the beating and begged Hill and Hunt to stop and to take whatever they wanted.

Alisha Long, one of the victims' daughters, said it wasn't until Hill and Hunt carried the Neer's television that the couple was able to escape and lock themselves in the bathroom and call 911.

Hill was arrested Nov. 12. He and his son were charged with robbery while armed with a deadly weapon and resulting bodily injury, burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary, and criminal confinement.

By taking a plea, Hill avoided getting an additional charge, as well as an enhancement, filed in his case.

Don Neer sat in the front room in the courtroom. He did not testify, but he, along with his family, has attended every court hearing for Hunt and for Hill.

Behind Neer, a group of at least 20 people, including his family and friends, sat to watch the sentencing hearing.

Brad Osswald, one of the Neer's son-in-laws and a police officer who has been in the force for about 25 years, also testified.

Osswald described how in the early morning of Nov. 5 he was contacted by a fellow officer, who told him dispatch was trying to reach him because some members of his family had been victims of a home invasion.

The Osswalds drove two hours from Hamilton County, which is north of Indianapolis, to New Paris, where they got to see the scene. As they approached the house they saw blood on the floor.

"While surveying this mess, the only thing I could think of was how someone could do this to two innocent, elderly people who had done nothing wrong to deserve this."

Amber Osswald, Brad Osswald's wife, read a letter to the court in which she described her parents as survivors. She said her parents "would not stay victims."

"While they only have a short time left on this earth, each siblings will continue to follow the whereabouts of Jeffrey R. Hill," Amber Osswald said. "We will make sure long after our parents are gone that he never sees freedom again or hurts anyone else. That is a promise we make to our loving parents."

After Neer's family spoke, Hill stood up and addressed the victims offering what Circuit Court judge Terry Shewmaker later described as an eloquent and heartfelt apology.

"What we did was wrong. I'm sorry. Pretty much my life is over with. I understand that you are angry because what happened to you shouldn't have happened to you, I would be angry if they were my parents too," Hill said. " I can't take it back. If I could I would. And if I have to spend the rest of my life in prison, well so be it. But I am sorry."

A trial status conference for Hunt, Hill's son, is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. June 19.


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