A suspect in a string of daytime burglaries in Marietta was set to make a plea deal Friday but the deal hit a snag when the judge expressed concerns.
Washington County Common Pleas Judge Ed Lane said he had reservations about the defendant stating he only wanted the deal if bond was guaranteed.
Matthew Jones, 28, of 502 Warren St., would have pleaded guilty to two counts of trespassing in a habitation when a person is present or likely to be present, both fourth-degree felonies.
Matthew Jones listens to conditions of a potential plea deal which hit a standstill at Friday’s plea hearing in Washington County Common Pleas Court.
Between Feb. 9 and his arrest March 13, there were a total of six daytime burglaries in the vicinity of Jones' home.
Prosecutors say they believe Jones was connected to all six, though they admit they can prove neither that he was acting alone or that he was the individual to enter all the homes.
"We still don't know with any certainty that he entered the homes," explained Assistant Washington County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Rings during Friday's plea hearing.
The prosecution's case rests on evidence gathered during a search warrant executed the day of Jones' arrest. At his home, police found jewelry, handbags and mail addressed to a home that had been burglarized.
Jones later became a suspect in a burglary at Barking Dog Books and Art at its former Front Street location.
Scot Monaghan, co-owner, confirmed that the business was broken into sometime overnight between Dec.11 and 12. A print, some books and cash were among the items stolen.
Recently, The Washington County Prosecutor's office was able to return the print to the business. The cash and books remain missing.
The return of the print was one of the many conditions of Friday's attempted plea deal. In addition, Jones would have had to candidly detail his involvement in any burglaries to officers.
That information could have possibly led to more suspects.
For his cooperation, Jones would not have been prosecuted for any crimes he admitted to beyond the two counts of felony trespass. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in jail, a $5000 fine and restitution costs.
It is still possible for the plea deal to be reached, according to Rings. In fact, it seemed all but complete Friday until defense attorney Shawna Landaker expressed her client's concern over his bond.
"My client is not comfortable unless he knows the bond will remain going forward," Landaker told Lane.
Lane said he was concerned that Jones' hesitance indicated a larger problem. Jones is seeking treatment for drug addiction.
Jones' concern over an increased or revoked bond might signify Jones hopes to continue his drug use, said Lane.
"I'm not comfortable going forward if he's not comfortable going forward," said Lane, effectively ending the hearing.
The case will now be headed to a grand jury. If no plea deal is reached, additional charges could arise, said Rings.