Former Dillon resident receives deferred sentence after pleading guilty to felony burglary charge
The charge stems from May standoff with police that led law enforcement to lock down local school
A former Dillon resident involved in a May standoff with police pleaded guilty Monday, Dec. 19, to a felony burglary charge and misdemeanor trespassing charge.
Judge Karen Romeo issued Christopher Staples, 39, a four-year deferred judgment sentence on the second-degree burglary charge, a Class 3 felony, during which he will be placed on supervised probation.
Staples appeared virtually at his plea and sentencing hearing at the Summit County Justice Center in Breckenridge from Alabama, where he is expected to serve the deferred sentence.
Should Staples maintain good behavior and abide by the terms laid out by the court, the felony charge will be dropped from his record at the end of four years, Romeo said. However, if he commits new crimes or violates any of the court’s terms, he could be sentenced on that charge, which carries a four- to 12-year prison sentence, she said.
“That’s a very heavy charge,” Romeo said. “It’s going to be hanging over his head.”
Staples broke into a Dillon Valley home twice in two days, according to a probable cause affidavit and charging documents. He barricaded himself in the home May 10 for more than six hours, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release at the time. The incident led law enforcement to lock down the area, including the nearby Dillon Valley Elementary School.
After the school had been evacuated, around 5:10 p.m., law enforcement forced open the front door and deployed a robot to locate Staples, the probable cause statement says. Deputies assumed Staples was armed, but he was ultimately taken into custody without incident and no weapon was found on him or at the scene, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The residence had also been broken into a day earlier, court documents state. The lock to the front door was jimmied open and a window latch and screen were removed, according to law enforcement.
Prosecuting attorney Lauren Crisera explained that the home Staples broke into was jointly owned by him and the victim, who he had been in a relationship with, but he did not have permission to be there.
“She has lost a feeling of safety within her own home,” Crisera said of the victim.
In a statement to the court, the victim described the difficult process of gathering evidence and coming forward to police while facing domestic violence and the loss of close friends and family that can be involved in that process.
“The trauma is indescribable,” she said.
Staples spent years degrading her emotionally, according to the victim, who described him at one point as a “sadist.”
The victim said she thought laws related to domestic violence protect offenders have to change. And, though she said she wishes she had left Staples the first time he was cruel to her, she thanked him for showing her “just how strong I am.”
Kylie Whitaker, the defense attorney representing Staples, said she and the 5th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s Office had discussed at length whether someone can burglarize their own home, but in the end Staples wanted to take the plea.
“He was heartbroken at the time,” Whitaker said of Staple’s mindset during the crime. “He’s the sweetest, kindest, nicest guy I’ve ever met in my entire life — and I’m not just saying that.”
The four years of probation includes 33 days in jail — with three days credit for time served — during which Staples will be on electronic home monitoring and 75 hours of community service, Romeo said. She sentenced him to 2 ½ years probation on the Class 1 misdemeanor trespassing charge, which will run concurrently with the deferred sentence.
As part of his plea deal, prosecutors agreed to drop seven other charges Staples faced, including an additional count of second-degree burglary; stalking, a Class 5 felony; a second misdemeanor count of trespassing; two misdemeanor counts of tampering; a misdemeanor count of cybercrime; and count of criminal mischief under $300, a petty offense.
Staples also addressed the court, saying he is “sincerely apologetic” including for the waste of time and resources the response by the Sheriff’s Office required.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “There is no excuse for my actions.”
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