Burglar who said he was trying to help sister get dialysis loses appeal

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A Lake County man sentenced to 16 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to two burglaries could not persuade an appellate court to lighten his punishment because he said he broke into homes in part to help his sister “get to dialysis.”

The Indiana Court of Appeals on Wednesday rejected those and other claims in Mario Hollins v. State of Indiana, 19A-CR-2743.

Hollins pleaded guilty to two counts of Level 4 burglary and received a 16-year sentence. On appeal, he claimed the Lake Superior Court did not properly give weight to mitigating factors, including his guilty plea and his remorse.

But writing for the appellate panel, Judge Patricia Riley found no abuse of discretion in the court’s weighing of those factors and rejected Hollins’ argument that his sentence was inappropriate in light of the nature of the offense and his character.

The panel noted a victim testified that she remained frightened after discovering Hollins had entered her Whiting home, stolen valuables and rifled through the house.

The court also cited Hollins’ long criminal history and the fact that he was facing charges in Illinois at the time he was arrested in Indiana.

“Although Hollins blamed the offenses on his drug addiction, he also told the trial court that he committed the offenses to help his sister ‘get to dialysis,’” Riley wrote for the panel in affirming Hollins’ sentence. “Hollins could not have reasonably thought that burglarizing homes was a viable means to procure assistance for his sister, and we find that this attempt to play on the sympathy of the trial court was illustrative of the true nature of Hollins’ character.”

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