Trio pleads guilty to copper theft

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

A trio arrested in a November 2006 copper theft ring has pleaded guilty to first degree criminal mischief and third degree burglary.

Earnest James Cherry, 30, Lee Edward Walker, 48, and Janice Lee, 48, were sentenced by Circuit Court Judge Jack Meigs on Monday. Cherry was sentenced to 20 years in prison, Walker 15 years and Lee 10 years. Meigs also ordered that they pay restitution in the amount of $185,977.80.

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The old Department of Human Resources (DHR) building on Riverview Street was one of the buildings burglarized and stripped of copper in 2006, causing $80,000 in damage. On the same night of the DHR robbery, copper was also taken from Highland Heights Apartments, according to police reports.

According to authorities, Walker and Lee had admitted to having drug problems and would &8220;make a copper hit&8221; as a means to support their habit.

The Nov. 8, 2006 police report stated Lee told police she, Walker and Cherry &8220;were getting the copper to pay bills, but they ended up buying drugs with the money.&8221;

According to Jackson, Lee had no prior criminal record, and was therefore given a lighter sentence.