PARTNER IN CRIME GETS SAME TIME
Author: Bill Bishop
Register-Guard, The (OR)
Thu, 25 May 2006
Describing a home invasion robbery last year as "a contemporary American tragedy ... of drugs, young men and guns," a prosecutor on Wednesday sought a 17 1/2 -year prison term for a Springfield man who carried a shotgun during the carefully orchestrated scheme to steal marijuana and money from an Elmira resident.
At the end of a 20-minute hearing, Jarrod Michael Swisher, 26, of Springfield, got a 16-year prison term - the same sentence given earlier to his two accomplices; Nicholas William Pearson, 21, of Springfield, and Jesse Michael Smith, 26, of Eugene.
No one was injured in the Dec. 6 incident, although the three robbers fired several shots at the homeowner when he returned unexpectedly and interrupted them after they had bound three of the victim's house guests and were ransacking the house on Sheffler Road, according to court records.
Deputy Lane County District Attorney Karl Matthews said Pearson hatched the idea and recruited Swisher, who then recruited Smith. The men acquired maps, studied video of the property, made at least two reconnaissance trips and carried a wide range of equipment, including wire snips for the alarm system, duct tape, a glass cutter and tools to break out auto glass, Matthews said.
They carried a shotgun, a 9 mm pistol and a Taser. They wore camouflage and masks, and were not high on drugs when they did the crime, he said. They took 3 1/2 pounds of marijuana and $6,000 cash.
But the plan went sour when the victim returned. The robbers shot at him and fled into nearby woods, where they were quickly found by a police dog.
"It was meticulously planned," Matthews told Lane County Circuit Judge Lauren Holland, who presided over Swisher's trial. A jury last week convicted Swisher on all counts - first-degree burglary, second-degree kidnapping, unlawful use of a weapon, two counts of theft and four counts of robbery.
Matthews argued that Swisher deserved a longer prison sentence than his accomplices because he lied to the jury in his testimony.
However, defense lawyer Elizabeth Baker said the jury made no ruling on possible perjury and it cannot be determined how they weighed Swisher's testimony.
She noted Swisher has no criminal history and played "a minor or relatively passive role" in the crime. She said he suffers from depression and that he dropped out of high school after a close friend was shot in the 1998 Thurston High School shootings. She sought a term of no more than 10 1/2 years.
In a written statement to the judge, Swisher apologized and, holding back tears, described the crime as "shameful."