GOSHEN — Jeffery J. Hunt of Winona Lake, one of two men accused of a violent home invasion of a New Paris couple on Nov. 4, 2013, changed his not guilty plea to two Class A and two Class B felonies to guilty Thursday morning in Elkhart County Circuit Court.
Hunt’s father, 43-year-old Jeffrey R. Hill, had already pleaded guilty to the crime and was sentenced on March 27 to 120 years in prison. The charges for both Hill and the 26-year-old Hunt are armed robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, a Class A felony; burglary, a Class A felony; conspiracy to commit burglary, a Class B felony; and criminal confinement, a Class B felony.
Authorities allege that Hill and Hunt broke into the home of Donald and Beverly Neer, just south of New Paris and robbed the couple. Prosecutors say the two men stole a .50-caliber muzzleloader, a .54-caliber muzzleloader, a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun, an extra gun barrel, gun cases, a flat-panel television, a DVD/VCR unit and approximately $100.
Family members of Hunt and Hill implicated the men in the robbery, according to police. Investigators said the Neers’ property was later found at the home of Hill’s mother and Hunt’s grandmother in Chicago.
According to court documents, Hunt and Hill were armed with a tire iron. During the invasion Donald Neer, then 82, suffered skull and wrist injuries and three broken vertebrae in his neck. His wife, Beverly, 78, was thrown to the ground. The Neers were present during Hunt’s status conference Thursday with Judge Terry Shewmaker, but did not address the court. The Neers did testify during the Hill’s sentencing hearing in March.
After Elkhart County Public Defender Peter Todd notified Shewmaker of his client’s intention, the judge asked Hunt several times if he understood that he was waiving his right to a trial on the charges. Hunt repeatedly responded, “Yes, sir.” Hunt was previously set to stand trial on June 30.