By Jane Beathard firstname.lastname@example.org
March 15, 2014
A pair of serial burglars who broke into at least six area homes last fall were sentenced to prison on Thursday, March 13, but not before one victim had her say in court.
Madison County Common Pleas Judge Eamon Costello sentenced Leathan Kuhn, 39, and Brian Scaff, 44, to five years behind bars and ordered the men to make $8,212 in total restitution to the six victims.
The Columbus men admitted to a burglary spree that targeted homes in the Plain City and West Jefferson areas between Oct. 18 and Nov. 4. Kuhn pleaded guilty in January to two of the break-ins and named Scaff as his accomplice. Scaff pleaded guilty to a single count of complicity to burglary.
Both men are heroin addicts who stole to buy drugs.
Prior to Kuhn’s sentencing, a West Jefferson-Kiousville Road resident told Costello she was sickened and emotionally altered by the Oct. 18 burglary at her home. Kuhn suffered cuts while breaking in through a basement window and left a trail of blood throughout the house.
Crime scene investigators were unable to process the scene for a day. In the meantime, the woman was not allowed to clean the blood smears from stairs, light switches, furniture, clothing and sinks.
“I had to look at the blood. It made me sick and unable to work for two days,” she said.
Although the blood is long gone, she said her mind still sees it in the house.
An educator of disadvantaged children, the victim said she no longer sees her current and former students in a sympathetic light. Instead, she sees them as potential thieves and addicts.
“You touched 400 children in a negative way,” she told Scaff.
The woman plans to buy a gun and learn how to use it against other thieves.
“If they are in my house again, they’re dead,” she warned.
Kuhn apologized to his victims. He told Costello he began using marijuana at age 10 and heroin in 2010. His lengthy criminal history includes a stint in federal prison.
“There’s no excuse for what I did,” Kuhn admitted.
Scaff also apologized and said he’s been drug free since his November arrest.
Costello told the victim her experience is a consequence of the nationwide heroin epidemic.
He said property crimes like burglary are escalating as addicts resort to illegal ways to feed their habits. Items taken have little monetary value. But victims are often emotionally damaged by the experience.
Costello noted the criminal justice system is often handcuffed by current laws that favor drug treatment over prison time for addicted defendants.
“The court doesn’t have the option to sentence (defendants) to prison in many cases,” Costello said.
Kuhn and Scaff were already under surveillance by authorities in Franklin and Madison counties on Nov. 4, when they were caught burglarizing another home on West Jefferson-Kiousville Road.
Officers attempted to stop the pair as they fled in Scaff’s Honda.
A high-speed pursuit ended in western Franklin County when Scaff crashed the car into a tree on Norton Road.
Jane Beathard can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 16 or via Twitter @JaneBeathard.