Four sentenced in motel robbery
FRONT ROYAL – Four of five defendants charged in the beating and robbery of a New Market man were convicted and sentenced – two of them to several years in prison – Tuesday in Warren County Circuit Court.
Police reported that the incident left the victim, Peter Stauffer, with a broken nose and heavy facial bruises that required treatment at Warren Memorial Hospital.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton said the wide disparity in the sentences written into plea agreements with the four defendants was the result of some having extensive prior criminal records and some having little or none. Layton also said some of the defendants were more actively involved in the crime and committing violence than the others.
Mitchell Lee Douglas, 48, was sentenced to seven years in prison and Lloyd Henry Heimerling Jr., 31, was sentenced to two years in prison.
Two women – Denise Nicole Miller, 31, and Billie Jo McBrearty, 44, were sentenced to three years supervised probation each and no incarceration other than time already served while their cases were pending.
Layton described an elaborate plot the defendants hatched on the night of Aug. 20, hours before McBrearty and Miller let Douglas and Heimerling into Stauffer’s room at the Blue Ridge Motel where they proceeded to beat him up.
Heimerling’s convictions included impersonating a police officer, the result of bilking a man out of $47 after he spoke to McBrearty at an intersection on Main Street earlier in the evening.
Layton told Circuit Judge Ronald Napier that the victim on Main Street “is a little mentally challenged.”
Layton said McBrearty and the victim talked about her consenting to have sex with him for money when Heimerling appeared, identified himself to the victim as an undercover police officer and told the man he was under arrest for soliciting a prostitute.
Layton said Heimerling then offered to let the man go in return for a $100 bribe. The victim gave him $47, Layton said.
The four defendants and one other woman, whose case is still pending, were in Stauffer’s motel room when he was robbed later in the evening.
Layton said Stauffer received a text message from an unknown person that led to Miller, McBrearty and the third woman appearing at his motel room where they began socializing and drinking.
“There was some discussion about illegal drug use,” Layton told Napier of the conversation in the motel room.
At some point, one of the women opened the door to the motel room, and Heimerling and Douglas barged in. Layton said they beat up Stauffer, tied him up with a telephone cord and took $400 cash, his cell phone and car keys.
Layton said the case was complicated by one of the women deliberately misidentifying Douglas as his twin brother. Police initially treated the twin brother as a suspect but later cleared him of wrongdoing after determining that he had an alibi.
“What were you thinking?” Napier asked Heimerling at the end of the defendant’s sentencing.
“I wasn’t,” Heimerling replied.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org