Prison ordered for burglaries

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SANDPOINT — Two defendants in a burglary ring that was brought down by a confiscated iPhone were handed prison sentences Thursday.

A third defendant was placed on supervised probation, according to 1st District Court documents.

Judge Barbara Buchanan imposed one- to three-year terms, but retained jurisdiction over Peter Franklin Goulette and Skyler Christopher Tucker. That means they will serve up to a year in a minimum-security prison before a decision is made to further incarcerate them or place them on probation.

“It’s one of the most regrettable decisions I have in my entire life,” Goulette said, referring to the string of burglaries and thefts he and his alleged accomplices committed last fall.

The Cedar Hills and Kootenai Community churches were burglarized, in addition to people’s workshops and storage buildings, according to charging documents.

Goulette, 19, was charged with five counts of burglary and a mixture of felony and misdemeanor theft counts. In exchange for pleading guilty to two counts of burglary, the remaining counts were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

Goulette was the ring’s self-described leader, police reports said.

The ring was dismantled after one of the suspect’s smartphones was confiscated by county juvenile corrections officials. It held incriminating video and images of the suspects engaged in criminal activity.

Serra Woods, Goulette’s public defender, urged against retained jurisdiction due to her client’s age, court records show.

But Buchanan imposed retained jurisdiction, also known as a rider, due to the repetitive nature of the crimes and their effect on the victims’ peace of mind.

Tucker, 21, entered an Alford plea to two counts of burglary. Under such a plea, a defendant admits no wrongdoing but concedes a conviction could be obtained if the matter were tried.

Alford pleas are treated no differently than a plea of guilt at sentencing.

Tucker apologized to the court.

“I made very poor decisions,” Tucker told Buchanan.

Bonner County Deputy Prosecutor Roger Hanlon recommended a suspended prison term and 60 days in the county jail, but Buchanan ordered a rider, finding that he would benefit from the program, court records indicate.

Kai Richard Leach was charged with three theft counts and two burglary counts, but pleaded guilty to one burglary count in an agreement with the state.

Leach, 18, declined to address the court and his attorney, Larry Purviance, portrayed his client as a follower who was subjected to bad influences.

Video evidence gleaned from the iPhone allegedly showed Leach having sex with a 14-year-old girl, leading to a charge of sexual abuse of a minor. The charge, however, was dismissed following a motion by the state.

Buchanan said she sensed no remorse from Leach, but spared him a custodial sentence and put him on probation for three years, court records show.

Two additional suspects — David Dean Combs Jr. and Richard Justin Wilkerson — also faced multiple-count complaints, but pleaded guilty to single counts of burglary. Combs and Wilkerson, 17 and 18, respectively, are scheduled to be sentenced next month.

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