New Palestine man sentenced in burglary case

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GREENFIELD — The first of two defendants accused of breaking into a New Palestine man’s home last summer while armed with a handgun was ordered this week to serve a decade-long sentence.

Brant Larson, 23, of New Palestine, will spend time in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary — one of nine criminal counts filed against him earlier this year.

Larson and his co-defendant — 22-year-old Matthew Babb of Fishers — were arrested in June and accused of breaking into a friend’s home and holding him at gunpoint as revenge for arranging a drug deal that went wrong, according to court documents.

Collectively, they were charged with more than 20 criminal counts, including armed robbery, burglary, theft and drug possession.

Larson accepted a plea agreement from prosecutors and pleaded guilty to one Level 2 felony count of conspiracy to commit burglary. On Wednesday, a judge ordered him to serve a 10-year sentence.

The time will be divided among prison, home detention and probation. Larson will spend three years in a state prison. Following his release, he’ll complete three years on home detention through the Hancock County Community Corrections program. He’ll also serve four years on probation.

The charge to which Larson pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of 30 years, records show.

His co-defendant, Babb, has accepted a similar agreement, according to prosecutors, and will be sentenced early next month.

A friend of Babb and Larson, who was interviewed as part of the investigation, told police his friends broke into the victim’s home intending to “kidnap (the alleged victim) and take him to their bosses,” court documents state.

Babb and Larson, the friend said, “were part of a drug ring which he believed to be current and former members of a fraternity at Indiana University” that sold Xanax, according to court documents.

The victim told police that on June 16 the men came to his home and threatened him with a gun, demanding money they said they were owed in a recent drug deal.

The men returned again late the next day, entered his home by breaking through the window of a locked door. The man said he called 911 as he jumped out of his second-floor bedroom window and ran, according to reports.

As the victim fled and as police arrived, a gunshot went off from inside the residence, court documents state. Larson later admitted it was his gun that went off; he’d accidentally knocked it off a counter, panicking as police arrived, and it fired as it hit the floor, court documents state.

Babb and Larson were arrested as they tried to flee from police. Larson cooperated with investigators and told them a story that matched the victim’s account of what happened, according to court documents.

During his sentencing hearing Wednesday, Larson blamed his actions on a drug addiction and told the judge he was proud to be six months sober. He apologized to the police, prosecutors and court staff for the trouble they’d gone to conducting the investigation.

Court Commissioner Cody Coombs, who was on the bench during Larson’s hearing, told the defendant he was very lucky to have the plea agreement and sentence he had. His actions — especially while armed with a firearm that discharged — could have been very dangerous.

“Take this plea agreement as a gift and turn things around,” Coombs said.