The victim, who is now 78, was not present for the sentencing.
A Bunker Hill man convicted of beating a 76-year-old man unconscious during a home-invasion robbery was sentenced to more than 40 years in prison Thursday during a sentencing hearing in Berkeley County Circuit Court.
Tyler S. Munson, 21, was found guilty of burglary, first-degree robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery and assault in the commission of a felony following a three-day jury trial in September in connection with the Nov. 28, 2011, home invasion in Martinsburg. Munson was found not guilty of felony malicious assault.
"Mr. Munson, this was a savage crime against an elderly citizen, which occurred while you were on bond for earlier felonies," West Virginia 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge John Yoder said.
Yoder said he felt the savageness of the violent crime necessitated a considerable period of incarceration. He subsequently adopted a recommendation from Berkeley County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Gregory K. Jones to sentence Munson to 44 years in prison for his first-degree robbery conviction; one to 15 years in prison on the burglary conviction; one to five years in prison on the conspiracy conviction; and two to 10 years in prison on the assault in the commission of a felony conviction.
Yoder ordered the sentences to be served consecutively and not concurrent to a three- to 30-year prison sentence Munson is currently serving in connection with an unrelated case. Munson was sentenced in that case on Dec. 19, 2011, after pleading guilty to charges of daytime burglary, grand larceny and aiding in concealing stolen property.
A co-defendant in the home-invasion robbery case, Evan R. Shirley, 23, of Bunker Hill, pleaded guilty in May to one count of first-degree robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery. He was sentenced by Yoder in October to 16 years in prison on his conviction for robbery and one to five years in prison on his conviction for conspiracy as part of a plea agreement. The sentences were ordered to be served concurrently.
Munson, who entered the courtroom wearing a rosary over his orange prison jump suit, apologized to the victim and his family in a statement prior to his sentencing. He said he regretted his actions, which he said were fueled by his addiction to heroin at the time. Now sober, Munson said he constantly thinks about what he should have and could have done.
"I would like to say I'm sorry. This was a terrible act I have to live with every day," Munson said.
Munson's attorney, Craig Manford, unsuccessfully lobbied the court for a more lenient sentence, stating his client had accepted responsibility for his actions and has demonstrated remorse. Manford asked the court not to "throw the book" at his client and said Munson's conviction was the man's first violent offense, adding that he has seen a change in the man's attitude and behavior.
"I would ask the court to sentence him to something at the lesser end," Manford said.
The victim, who now is 78 and lives in Virginia, was not present for Thursday's sentencing hearing, but his daughter, Debbie Faircloth, was called to the stand to testify by Jones prior to sentencing.
"It has affected him terribly. He's not the same," Faircloth said.
She said her father now suffers from severe short-term memory loss, hallucinations and had to undergo brain surgery after two "brain bleeds" were discovered in January following the attack.
"He got a little better, but he deteriorates every day. Every day he gets worse," Faircloth said.
Faircloth said she grew up without her father until she found him about 10 years ago. At the time, he was living in Alabama and agreed to move to Martinsburg to be with Faircloth and her sister. He opened a store after moving to Martinsburg, but it was forced to close after the attack. Faircloth said her father has since moved to Roanoke, Va., because he feels safer there.
"I know that having a drug addiction is an illness, but that doesn't give you the the right to go in and take something that's not yours," she told Munson.
Meanwhile, Jones told the court that he felt there was no reason why Munson should be granted concurrent sentences or leniency. Jones said Munson staked out the victim's home before the robbery and knew the victim was elderly.
"He committed a brutal attack that was completely unnecessary," Jones said.
Police found the back door to the victim's home broken open and large amounts of blood on the floor, a recliner and a nearby wall. The victim told the West Virginia State Police that two men broke into his home and hit him in the head with something "that felt like lead," records show.
It was believed to be a broken rake that Munson was accused of using to beat the victim while he was asleep on a recliner. After Shirley was arrested, he told police that Munson took coins and laptop computers from the victim's home while he acted as lookout at the door, records show.
"He should not be granted any mercy in this case," Jones said.