May 24, 2005 in City

Man gets term in home invasion

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A Spokane man was sentenced Monday in a violent home-invasion robbery in a case that gained attention last week when a co-defendant absconded from a court-granted furlough to get married.

Eric James Vincent Singleton, 24, was sentenced to a minimum-standard three years in prison under a plea bargain that reduced eight counts of first-degree robbery to one.

The top of his standard range was four years in prison.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Linda Tompkins ordered Singleton to be taken into custody as soon as he was sentenced. He had been free on a $2,500 bond.

It was Tompkins who granted Singleton’s co-defendant, Jeremy A.Arnold, 28, a one-week furlough on May 6 so he could get married.

Arnold was to have been sentenced on May 13 for the home-invasion robbery and other crimes but failed to return. He surrendered Friday when police found him.

Police had criticized the furlough, calling Arnold a “major danger” because of a long criminal history showing increasing violence.

Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla, who handled both men’s cases, said Monday that no new sentencing date has been set for Arnold, nor has a decision been made on whether to file new charges against him because of the furlough violation.

Tompkins has said the furlough order was signed by Cipolla and Assistant Public Defender Jeff Leslie when it came before her with no criminal record or warning that Arnold should be considered dangerous.

The order required Arnold to be on electronic monitoring and included a warning from Cipolla that any violation of furlough would lead the prosecutor to seek a longer prison term.

Asked about his role in the furlough, Cipolla said Monday, “I’m not going to make any comments on things like that.”

Prosecutor Steve Tucker couldn’t be reached for comment.

In the home-invasion robbery for which Singleton was sentenced Monday, Arnold remained outside as an armed lookout while Singleton and two other suspects went into a home in the 3100 block of East Fairview to rob seven occupants – including three young children – at gunpoint. According to court documents, they hoped to get money and drugs from one of the occupants, Juan Luis Martinez, who was hit twice on the head with a pistol in the course of a robbery that produced less than the perpetrators had hoped.

Co-defendant Justice Alan Erickson, 22, pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree burglary and conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary and is to be sentenced July 7.

The third armed man to enter the house allegedly was 25-year-old Deandre S. Gaither, who is wanted on a warrant charging first-degree robbery and first-degree burglary.

Another defendant, 22-year-old Tia N. Thompson, pleaded guilty earlier this month to residential burglary and second-degree robbery and was sentenced to six months in jail. She performed a ruse to get the victims to open their door.

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