The last of three teenaged defendants who terrorized and robbed World War II veteran Josef Martin inside his Fresno home was sentenced Friday to five years in prison.
Keith Scott, 17, faced as much as 11 years in prison but was given a lesser sentence because he cooperated with law enforcement and testified against Dezman Kenner, who put a gun in Martin’s mouth, pistol-whipped him and shoved him in a closet during a home invasion robbery in 2013, prosecutor Timothy Donovan said.
A week ago, Kenner, 18, was sentenced in Fresno County Superior Court to 17 years in prison.
Scott’s sentencing ends a terrorizing episode in Martin’s life, a decorated Army soldier who survived the invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge, only to be beaten inside his Fresno home during the early hours of Oct. 23, 2013.
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Martin, now 93, did not attend Friday’s hearing, but Scott wrote a letter of apology to him. Donovan said he and senior investigator Jimmy Olson hand-delivered Scott’s letter to him after Friday’s hearing.
“He was glad it was over and that everyone was brought to justice,” Donovan said.
In November, Sheriff Margaret Mims announced the arrest of the three teens and accused them of breaking into Martin's home near Olive and Willow avenues in southeast Fresno during the early hours of Oct. 23, 2013.
During the home invasion, Mims said, the assailants stole $200 and jewelry before getting away.
In December, a 12-year-old boy who confessed to his involvement was sentenced to a year in the Juvenile Justice Center as part of a rehabilitation program for pre-adolescents. The Bee does not identify minors who are tried as juveniles.
Because of the seriousness of the crime, Kenner, who was 16 at the time, and Scott, who was 15, were tried as adults.
In March 2014, Scott pleaded no contest to an felony charge of armed home-invasion robbery and admitted he knew Martin was an elderly victim, Donovan said.
In defending Scott, Fresno attorney Robert Lamanuzzi said his client has learning disabilities and had once lived in a group home. Scott also was seeing a clinical psychologist and had been in car crash about eight years ago and watched his father die.
In seeking probation for Scott, Lamanuzzi told Judge Jonathan Skiles his client had no prior record and was well-behaved and getting good grades at the Juvenile Justice Center.
Lamanuzzi also said Scott was led to believe they were going to burglarize a home with no one inside, and that Scott was surprised to see Martin because the intruders had knocked on the front door and rang the doorbell several times and no one answered.
“He is truly remorseful what what he did,” Lamanuzzi said.
Donovan said Scott will be sent to a juvenile prison until he is 18 years old. He then will be transferred to an adult prison to finish his sentence, the prosecutor said.