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Archive for Saturday, March 20, 1999

BURGLARY ACCOMPLICE ASSIGNED PROBATION

March 20, 1999

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Damen Copp told Douglas County District Judge Paula Martin on Friday that he wants to apologize face-to-face to a Lawrence woman whose home he and another young man broke into in December.

"I just want to apologize for what happened," Copp said before Martin sentenced him to 24 months of probation. The 18-year-old told the judge he has a 3-year-old sister and the thought of someone breaking into his family's home made him feel sick to his stomach.

His attorney, Charles Branson, said he believed Copp felt genuine remorse. If the case had gone to trial, Branson said, the jury would have learned that Copp did not enter the family's home.

"He was more or less along for the ride, not that that makes it OK," Branson said. "When he read about it in the paper and learned (that the mother was home with her baby), it made him think of his mom and sister."

Copp pleaded guilty Feb. 12 to burglary and criminal damage to property. His co-defendant, Antonio Floyd, 15, pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary on Jan. 20.

Last month, Judge Jean Shepherd ordered Floyd into the custody of a state juvenile correctional facility. Copp and Floyd also will have to pay restitution. The district attorney's office still is determining the amount.

The victim in the case was home with her then-14-month-old daughter on Dec. 17 when she heard rustling outside and then the sound of breaking glass. She hid with her baby behind a van in her garage.

At Floyd's sentencing hearing, the woman wept and said the break-in had destroyed her sense of safety and security. She did not attend Copp's hearing Friday afternoon.

Martin told Copp that he must apologize to the family, but she said it will be up to the woman if the regrets are made face-to-face.

-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is dgruver@ljworld.com.

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