Burton sentenced to 30 years in prison

STEUBENVILLE – Drake Burton, one of three men accused of a violent home invasion in Mingo Junction, was sentenced to 30 years in a state prison Monday afternoon by Jefferson County Common Pleas Court Judge David Henderson.

A seven-man, five-woman jury found the 21-year-old Burton guilty last week on four counts of aggravated burglary, four counts of felonious assault, one count of having a weapon under a disability and one count of tampering with evidence.

The charges stemmed from the May 16 home invasion that saw two adults and a 2-year-old girl and a 13-year-old girl pistol whipped and and a man shot in the leg.

“I find the injury was worsened because of the age of the young victim. You also have a 13-year-old child who was injured. This was part of a criminal conspiracy and you were already on court probation when this offense happened,” Henderson told Burton during the sentencing hearing.

“I have tried cases for a decade now and I don’t remember a victim as scared as the 13-year-old girl. She suffered physical and psychological harm. Mr. Burton was not strongly provoked to break into that home,” stated Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin.

Defense attorney Eric Reske said Burton, “still has the ability to turn his life around. He has never been to prison before. And he recently became a father. While there were injuries none of the injuries were life threatening.”

Burton indicated he will appeal the conviction and sentencing.

Hanlin said the sentence was punishment, “for the harm he caused to each of the victims. He will pay a penalty for each of these victims.”

Burton was the first of three Steubenville men accused of dressing like construction workers and forcing their way into the home on Union Avenue where Michael Gray; his fiancee, Yolanda Cronin; her 13-year-old sister; and Gray and Cronin’s 2-year-old daughter had just sat down to eat lunch.

Burton told the jury during the two-day trial he had been framed by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. BCI testimony said agents had found his fingerprints in the car used to transport the three men from Steubenville to the Mingo Junction home.

Stedmund Creech and Anthony Elmore also have been charged with crimes for their alleged participation in the home invasion and are scheduled to stand trial in Jefferson County Common Pleas Court.

Creech also appeared in court for sentencing after he was found guilty earlier this month on three charges of having a weapon under a disability.

Those charges stem from a July 2, 2012, incident in the Pleasant Heights neighborhood, described by Hanlin as, “essentially a gun battle between two convicted felons.”

Henderson sentenced Creech to a 30-month prison term consecutive to a prison term he is already serving for escape charges.

Creech also said he will appeal his case.