WARSAW — Nathan Ries, 18, who has had addresses of 16032 CR 52, Syracuse, and 8017 E. Pioneer Way, North Webster, is going to have to prove to the court he really has changed. Ries, who was involved in two incidents allegedly involving drugs, retaliation and assault rifles, was sentenced to 12 years at the Indiana Department of Corrections and six years probation.
Ries was sentenced to nine years, with three suspended in each case with the sentences to run consecutively.
Ries, who was 17 at the time the crimes were committed and charged as an adult, was before Kosciusko Superior Court 1 Judge David Cates Thursday morning for sentencing in the two cases. Cates, when handing down the sentences stated “You wanted an opportunity to show me (you’ve changed). I hope you do.” His order included a recommendation Ries be placed in the purposeful incarceration program. Cates stated upon successful completion of that program with no conduct issues, he will consider a sentence modification. “The time is substantially up to you,” Cates stated.
Cates further stated what Ries did “was not a mistake. You made choices … I heard you would like the opportunity to show me you’re clean. You’re a long standing addict with substance abuse not properly addressed. Young man, I don’t doubt your attorney at all. But you committed a second offense while on bond for the first offense, … after you started counseling, yet you did it anyway.”
The comment from Cates came after Ries, who fought emotions during the hearing, apologized for his actions and stated he “made mistake after mistake that I cannot take back.” A large number of family and friends were in the courtroom to offer moral support, however, the sentencing verdict left them in tears.
Through a plea agreement, filed Nov. 15, Ries pleaded guilty to the lesser included crime of robbery, a level 3 felony, in each of the two cases. The five additional charges were dismissed.
The first case occurred in October 2017 in Warsaw. The original charges were robbery with serious bodily injury, a level 2 felony; battery causing serious bodily injury, a level 5 felony, and theft, a class A misdemeanor. The second case occurred in Syracuse in March 2018. Charges in that case were robbery with serious bodily injury and burglary with serious bodily injury, both level 2 felonies; battery, while armed with a deadly weapon, a level 5 felony; and theft, a level 6 felony.
Kosciusko County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Brad Voelz stated before the court when Ries committed the first crime it dealt with drug deals and a group of people in an inexcusable violent crime. He noted the crime was revenge, that resulted in a group “walking down the street with assault riffles” that could have had extreme consequences, including death. “Some were juveniles, tried as juveniles, others waived to adult court and some automatically filed in adult court,” said Voelz. He noted the defendants in the case were 16, 17 and 18 year olds. Additionally there was cooperation among the defendants, Ries being one of them.
However, while out on bond in this case, he continued using drugs and in March 2018 it was the same thing. “Firearms were used in retaliation, assault rifles and shootings.” Voelz gave Ries’ attorney, Scott Lennox, credit for doing a nice job on the plea agreement. Voelz stated he considered the good things Ries has done since then – receiving counseling on his own, and the negative — the consequences of a young man going to prison and the people he will associate with who will affect his future thinking, in negotiating the plea agreement, and setting the charge at 15 years.
Lennox noted Ries “was a child when he committed the crimes” and understands the seriousness of his actions. He noted he has “seen the light,” but too late to change the outcome of the cases. It was noted under his own volition he sought to get help with his drug problem, an issue he has had since he was young. He took part in an intensive inpatient treatment in Indianapolis and also volunteered to enter a drug counseling center and take classes. “He has worked hard” stated Lennox, not only to stay sober, but at a job working crazy hours, keeping busy and becoming a law abiding citizen. “I’m impressed all around,” said Lennox, adding he has seen real change – like night and day.
“He has a future, a lot of opportunity and potential for success once he gets this behind him. He understands he can’t do this without punishment … opportunity to show there is a chance to redeem himself … a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Lennox. It was suggested Ries be allowed to come back in six months to one year so he could “get back to his newborn child,” who is 1-month-old.
“There’s no real explanation, no validity. He knows what he did was wrong and it is unlikely to reoccur. I believe the proof is in the pudding.”
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