HOLLIDAYSBURG - Blair County Judge Daniel J. Milliron said Friday it's not often that a crime victim comes to the aid of a defendant, but he said that a request for mercy by a Duncansville-area couple convinced him to free a 29-year-old man from jail so he could attend a religious-based drug and alcohol program.
The judge was faced with a request from prosecution and the defense attorneys to place Troy Lyn Shaw of Dunnings Highway, Duncansville, on probation for breaking into a Poplar Run home on April 26.
Milliron was leaning toward rejecting the plea agreement until the owner of the Poplar Run property presented him with a letter and discussed the case with the judge in open court.
Ronald Neff said he and his wife did not want restitution stemming from the entry into their home.
Shaw cut himself when he broke into the home in April by using a brick to smash out a window. He dripped blood throughout home. It will cost thousands of dollars to restore the residence.
Neff told the judge that what he wanted for Shaw was treatment for a drug problem, and he recommended that Shaw become part of a prison ministry program called Reformers Unanimous, which meets every Friday night at the Dry Run Baptist Church, Duncansville.
The judge accepted the victim's recommendation. He ordered Shaw's immediate release from prison but with the proviso he attend the Reformers Unanimous program Friday night.
Milliron told Shaw if he did not attend the program, he would have him placed back in the Blair County Prison.
The judge was so serious about getting Shaw into the program that he gave Neff his telephone number and told the victim he was to call him Friday night if Shaw didn't show up for the meeting.
Shaw accepted Milliron's offer to attend the program.
Reformers Unanimous, run by a Hollidaysburg resident Kent Fluke, works with inmates in the county prison and with those who have been released to address their drug and alcohol addictions.
In addition to attending a program that would help him address his drug problems, Shaw will spend the next eight years on probation, according to the Milliron sentence.
Shaw was charged with defiant trespass, making false reports to law enforcement and criminal mischief for the entry into the Neff home.
On April 26, the 911 emergency center received a call for help from Shaw who reported shots being fired near the Neff home. He said a white Cadillac was blocking the road and people were shooting at the residence of a friend where he was.
State police responded and found Shaw shirtless and bloody. Shaw told police a bizarre story that two people were shot and he had to break into the Neff home to call for help.
Police found the Neff home had been entered, and there was blood, but they found no evidence of gun violence or wounded individuals.
A rifle and two shotguns had been moved in the residence.
Shaw was under the influence of a drug, but when Milliron asked him Friday what it was, he didn't seem to know.
He said he thought he had used lidocaine caffeine, which he said had been purchased over the Internet.
"I'm influenced by the victims, who are here with a good heart," said Milliron, referring to the Neffs who were more concerned about helping Shaw than getting restitution.
Milliron said to Shaw had it not been for the understanding victims, "I probably would give you a large sentence."
"I just hope he gets help," said Neff.