Last of burglary defendants admits guilt

Tuesday, November 20, 2012
William Artadi

William Artadi became the last of the three suspects charged in a string of burglaries to plead guilty Monday, which came as part of an agreement with prosecutors that called for the dismissal of charges in exchange for the plea.

Artadi, 20, of Jackson now awaits a Dec. 17 sentencing hearing to see if Judge William Syler sees much of a difference between 20 and 13 -- which is the difference in the number of criminal charges that Artadi faced when he walked into the courtroom compared to what he left with.

Syler told Artadi that he usually goes along with such plea bargains. But not always, he cautioned.

"I will do what's appropriate at sentencing," Syler said.

Artadi admitted to 13 counts Monday in a case in which nearly 40 criminal charges were filed against Artadi and co-defendants Aaron Denson, 21, and Jacob Colyott, 20. After seven were dismissed, Artadi was left facing 12 second-degree burglary charges and a misdemeanor theft charge.

But Artadi didn't even plead guilty to the greatest number of charges. Denson did that Nov. 13, when he copped to 17 burglary charges. Artadi and Denson had the bulk of the charges, which alleged they stole much of what they came across during the monthlong spree, from big-dollar gadgets like electronics, to change in car consoles. The first to plead guilty was the one with the fewest charges; Colyott pleaded guilty in October to two felony counts after one was dismissed.

Steve Wilson, Artadi's lawyer, said the agreement allows for three possibilities: a five-year prison sentence for all the charges to run concurrently; probation following 120 days of shock time; or one year in the county jail on a misdemeanor theft charge and probation for the felony charges.

Wilson said, ideally, Artadi is hoping to avoid having a felony conviction on his record. That would allow Artadi to do what he intended before the charges came down: to enlist in the U.S. Army. Artadi already had a date to report to basic training when he was arrested in August.

Other than the burglaries, Wilson said, Artadi has no previous convictions.

"He's never been in any trouble in his life," Wilson said. Artadi stopped when he realized the stupidity of his actions, Wilson said.

Wilson said he realizes, as does his client, that the offenses are serious. While technically Artadi faces about 90 years in prison, Wilson said in many cases like this, sentences are ordered to be served concurrently.

"There's lots of possibilities," Wilson said. "We're holding out hope for the county jail time, not the prison time, so he won't have a felony on his record. He's a nice kid. He's realized he got in with a bad bunch and did some things he shouldn't have been doing."

Artadi's guilty plea signals the beginning of the end for the burglary case, short of sentencing.

Keisha McReynolds
Gordon Schafer

Two other guilty pleas could take place in separate cases, attorney Malcolm Montgomery told Syler on Monday. Two of his clients, Keisha McReynolds and Gordon Schafer, could enter guilty pleas as soon as Dec. 3, Montgomery said.

McReynolds was arraigned Monday on charges that she sold prescription painkillers to a confidential informant at a day care she owned. Schafer, a former volunteer firefighter, is facing a charge of first-degree arson in an Aug. 18 fire in Cape Girardeau County.

smoyers@semissourian.com

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