By Mark Thornton
A man who broke in and made himself at home in an uninhabited house will be spending his nights with a lot of other criminals for the next several years.
Luther Mills, 48, was ordered to serve 10 years in prison after pleading guilty in Jones County Circuit Court to two counts of burglary of a non-residence.
Mills broke into a house in the 1500 block of Jefferson Street last November, breaking a window and removing the air-conditioning unit, said Assistant District Attorney Dennis Bisnette.
“The interior of the home was in disarray,” when Ronnie Jones, who is the elderly owner’s son-in-law, went to check on it, Bisnette said. “Somebody had been drinking, there were cigarette butts, things had been strewn about.”
Mills was “developed as a suspect” and was later arrested, then admitted to the crime, Bisnette said.
He was also charged with the January 2018 break-in at the law office of Tracy Walley on West 3rd Street. A back door was damaged, laptops were missing and the office was “ransacked,” Bisnette said. Mills was also implicated in other cases, the prosecutor said.
Mills was ordered to serve seven years on one charge and three on the other, but he will have to run them consecutively — meaning 10 years total. He was represented by public defender John Piazza. Mills will also have to serve four years of post-release supervision under the Mississippi Department of Corrections, participate in the court’s community service program and pay $8,275.50 in fines and fees. That amount includes $6,358 to his victims.
Judge Dal Williamson warned Mills that he would likely be sentenced as a habitual offender if he gets another felony charge. The judge encouraged Mills to get a job and change his ways when he’s released.
“You’re going to end up spending your life in jail,” Williamson said.
In an unrelated case, 26-year-old Sarah Marie Clark was ordered to serve eight years in prison after pleading guilty to burglary of a dwelling and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.
She stole items from a home on Church Drive while the resident was working overseas and she used her mother’s prescription — while her mother was in jail — to get drugs. In addition to the prison time, she will also have to serve three years of post-release supervision under MDOC, participate in the court’s community service prorgam and pay $1,917.50 in court fees and fines.