By Morgan Myers
"My family had no food in the house - nothing. That's why I butchered those pigs and shot the deer."
That's the defense of Brett Richard Reynolds, 20, of 74 Ikes Drive, Brady Township, who pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy burglary, unlawful killing of big game and possessing the instrument of a crime. Reynolds was sentenced to 3 1/2 to seven years state prison for his crimes.
"What I did was wrong," Reynolds admitted to sentencing Judge Marc F. Lovecchio. "I didn't know what else to do at the time."
Reynolds and co-conspirator Nick Andrew Kissinger, 20, of 68 Reed Road, Franklin Township, stole and butchered two pigs from Melvin Swisher's barn near Unityville last February. The men also admitted to poaching several deer in the weeks prior to the pig theft, according to Michael Wyant, a wildlife conservation officer with the state Game Commission.
"You broke into some guy's barn, took his live animals out and butchered them. You violated his privacy and sense of security," Lovecchio told Reynolds during sentencing.
Reynolds, who has a fiancee and a 2-month-old daughter, begged Lovecchio to lower his state minimum sentence.
"I stood up as a man and admitted what I did. I can't believe I'm getting (3 1/2 years) for doing something like this," Reynolds told Lovecchio.
While Lovecchio was sympathetic to Reynolds' situation, he explained that he did not have the authority to override a negotiated plea agreement.
"I don't disbelieve you when you say your family had problems related to your poverty. I'm very sympathetic to that and to the fact that you've cooperated. But, at the same time, I can't ignore your prior record score," Lovecchio said.
Due to Reynolds' past felony history, certain minimums must be imposed, according to Lovecchio.
After a brief consultation with his attorney, Reynolds decided to accept the plea bargain as planned.
In addition to his state sentence, Reynolds must pay more than $9,000 in restitution.
"It was a dumb, stupid idea, I guess," Reynolds said of his crimes.