KINGMAN - The getaway driver in a series of home invasions two years ago was sentenced to five years in prison Friday, despite his lawyer's assertion that the 20-year-old man would face retaliation while incarcerated for testifying against a co-defendant in the case.
Defense attorney Jeff James argued that probation was more appropriate for Patrick Jaye Liewer, who pleaded guilty last fall to two counts of attempted burglary in connection with three home invasions that occurred in March 2009. Five other men were arrested, including Chad Weitherow, who was sentenced in February to 240 years for serving as the ringleader in the case.
Liewer agreed to testify at Weitherow's trial in exchange for the dismissal of 60 other counts against him. The deal with the state left his sentence at the judge's discretion, with punishment ranging from probation to 7 years in prison.
Judge Rick Williams said when considering the appropriate punishment, he was mainly concerned with Liewer's prospects of rehabilitation. While Liewer has no previous felony convictions, he has multiple drug and alcohol violations. As a juvenile he was in the drug court program, which Williams said is an intensive program aimed at getting the defendants back on the right path.
"That obviously didn't work in this case," he said.
Williams gave Liewer 2.5 years for each of the two homes he was said to have driven the other suspects to. Williams acknowledged that Liewer's role as driver in the crime spree was less severe than the others, who broke into three homes looking for money and assaulted the homeowners.
But Williams said that despite Liewer being under the influence of drugs and alcohol, he could have walked away at multiple times that night, a point Liewer's lawyer conceded.
"He was stupid, he was drunk, he was intoxicated and he made poor choices," James said. "He was swept up in the (coat) tails of what was going on and wasn't strong enough to say no."
Jessie Padilla, who was the first defendant to agree to testify against the others but changed his mind, fled the state and was later arrested, is the last to stand trial in the case. Neil Cannon was sentenced to seven years in prison for his role and a separate armed robbery. Christopher Holder was sentenced last year to 18 months, while Mark McLennan is serving a 21-year sentence for the home invasions and a separate robbery.