NILES — A local youth was sentenced to jail on Monday for his role in a 2019 home invasion in Niles that happened when he was just 16.
Jatwon Jaque Dipree Wade, 19, of Niles, pleaded guilty to second-degree home invasion and robbery of a person and received concurrent sentences of five to 15 years and five to 10 years in prison . He has credit for 179 days served and must pay $2,298 in fines, costs and restitution.
The incident occurred on August 4, 2019 at a residence in Niles when Wade and another person broke into the house, knocked the victim down, whipped him with a gun and kicked him in the the head.
Defense attorney Carri Briseno and assistant district attorney David Saraceno debated whether Wade’s actions met the definition of “excessive brutality” or “egregious conduct.” Briseno argued that Wade did not whip the victim with a pistol, while Saraceno said the victim testified that Wade knocked him down and kicked him.
Berrien County Trial Judge Sterling Schrock said he found enough evidence to tag Wade in the sentencing guidelines for using excessive brutality and egregious conduct.
“It’s bad enough to point a gun at someone and then stomp, kick and knock the person down,” he said.
Briseno pleaded for leniency in the sentencing, noting that Wade had a difficult childhood and has matured a lot since the incident happened. Wade was initially charged in juvenile court, but the case eventually moved to adult court.
“He started his criminality in 2016 and his behavior got worse,” she said. “He and his mother were homeless. They were couch surfing and there was absolutely no stability. He had no advice and he went wild.
Wade said he was sincerely sorry for his actions and apologized to the victim.
“If I could take it back, I would,” he said. “I truly apologize for my actions. I know paying restitution cannot make up for what he suffered. I spent seven months in jail and learned from my mistakes.
Judge Schrock called the case one of those that keep him awake at night.
“For me to sit here and say I understand why you are where you are, I can’t,” he said. “It would be dishonest of me to say that I understand what you’ve been through in life. But I have to balance that with the interests and needs of society.
The judge noted that Wade had come to face a prison sentence without a prior felony conviction as an adult, despite having a juvenile criminal record.
“With the circumstances here, you’ve come to the point of having a prison sentence like this,” he said.
Judge Schrock acknowledged Wade’s difficult childhood.
“The system has let you down. This is the tragedy,” he said. ” It’s more than that. The system has let you down.