Significant circumstances results in 20 years for arsonists

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On Friday, April 21st, Devon Radcliff and Curtis Taulbee were sentenced to 20 years for the May 2016 burglary and arson of Valley Supply Hardware store in Rising Sun.

Ohio County Circuit Court Judge James. D. Humphrey pronounced the sentence after the two men had enter guilty plea agreements.

Family members of both defendants along with store owners Gary and Judy Copeland and their family were on hand for the sentencing.

Judge Humphrey first reviewed the case against Radcliff, the 20 year old employee of the store at the time.

They had put 50 years of 10 hour days, six days a week into the small city’s only hardware.

“All this investment in the RisingSun-Ohio County community was lost due to the selfish and destructive acts of defendants Radcliff and Taulbee,” said Humphrey.

The judge referenced numerous significant aggravating factors. It was ignificant that the break-in was planned. It was significant and relevant to the issue of intent to harm that the defendants actually returned to the area of the fire and observed emergency vehicles coming to the scene.

“He (Radcliff) had the nerve to ask Mrs. Copeland if he would still be receiving his paycheck,” said Humphrey.

After taking stolen property to a vehicle in the cemetery, Humphrey noted that they purposely returned to start the fire. They knew there was a residence 50 feet away. It was clear the purpose was not to hide evidence but to destroy.

Humphrey admonished Radcliff for breaking the trust of the Copelands.

The Fire Marshall estimated the damage in excess of $1 million. The Copelands have yet to settle with the insurance company.

The economic impact was not only on the Copelands but the 11 employees and the community.

Humphrey said a three-line written apology submitted by Radcliff at a previous sentencing hearing did not show significant remorse for the act.

Taulbee had apologized in open court but the judge found his remorse was not a significant mitigating factor.

Both were sentenced 14 years for the Valley Supply Burglary charge with none suspended. The two were given four years for a burglary charge related to the concession stand at Rising Sun Schools. That sentence, as agreed upon in the plea, will be served concurrently (at the same time of the other charge).

The two were given 12 years for Arson with six of those years suspended and six years of probation following their release.

Humphrey could have chose to have the arson sentence served concurrently but he said the Court finds that the aggravating circumstances are sufficient not only to aggravate the sentences but to run the sentences consecutive.

Once on probation, both will have probationary costs to pay. Court costs were suspended.

The judge addressed Taulbee’s mental health records which showed he had Attention Deficit Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and indications of potential Autism or Mild Intellectual disability. However, during previous court testimony he was able to articulate and understand what he had done.

Both men were given 428 days of credit time served in jail since their June 4, 2016 arrests with 321 actual days and 107 good time credit.

Each must each serve at least 75 percent, or 15 years, of their 20 years prison time.

Humphrey also ordered Taulbee and Radcliff were ordered to have no contact with the Copelands or Rising Sun High School. They will pa restitution in the amount of $50,000 to the Copelands, $1,154.95 to the high school, and $1,154.96 to the City of Rising Sun.

Defense attorneys had argued that sentencing the Burglary and Arson counts consecutively instead of concurrently could constitute double jeopardy. Humphrey examined several cases and found that not to be true.