A Jones County man is going to prison after admitting to stealing from the homes of two people he was familiar with.

John Caleb Smith, 21, was ordered to serve eight years in the full-time custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections after pleading guilty in Jones County Circuit Court to two counts of burglary of a dwelling.

He admitted to taking items from the home of Linda Webb in Moselle last September while her son Josh — a friend of Smith’s — was “passed out,” District Attorney Tony Buckley said. The theft was caught on the Webbs’ home surveillance, which showed Smith loading a box into his vehicle, Buckley said. 

The mother believes Smith put something in her son’s drink that caused him to pass out, Buckley said, adding that both young men are “drug addicts.” It was believed that the victim’s son owed Smith money for drugs and the burglary was a way to recoup his losses, the DA said.

After he was taken into custody, Smith admitted to also breaking into the home of Gary Dial on Highway 590 in May 2019 and stealing a gun.

“He said he had sold a gun to (Dial) before so he knew he had guns,” Buckley said.

Smith said he was stealing to get money to feed his drug habit. Smith told Judge Dal Williamson that he had a problem with methamphetamine and that caused him to mess up a promising career he had started in welding.

In addition to the prison time, Williamson ordered Smith to serve four years on post-release supervision, participate in the court’s community service program upon release and to get treatment in MDOC’s long-term drug-and-alcohol treatment program. The judge said he is hopeful that program will improve under the new administration of Burl Cain.

Smith was also ordered to pay restitution to the victims of $4,500 in addition to court fees and fines — a total of $6,855.

If convicted, Smith was facing up to 50 years in prison. The judge agreed to go along with the reduced sentence that was worked out between public defender John Piazza and Buckley because of Smith’s age and because he has no prior felonies. The victims signed an affidavit agreeing with the sentence.

In a separate case, 52-year-old Richard Thompson got released on time served in the Jones County Adult Detention Center (183 days) with a five-year suspended sentence after pleading guilty to burglary of a non-dwelling. 

Thompson admitted to going into a storage house on Moselle-Oak Grove Road with co-defendant Clarence Norris, the DA told the court. Norris admitted to stealing items that he sold to “buy food,” Buckley said, adding that owner James Henry signed an affidavit agreeing with Thompson’s sentence.

Thompson does have a prior felony on his record. In addition to the prison time, he will have to spend three years on post-release supervision under MDOC, participate in the court’s community service program and pay court costs and fines of $2,927.50, which includes $1,000 in restitution to Henry. He was represented by public defender Michael Mitchell.

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