WARSAW — A Pierceton man will serve 12 years in prison after stealing a vehicle from a woman in the parking lot at Owens Supermarket.
Matthew L. Prater, 42, 3104 E. Wooster Road Lot 24, Pierceton, was charged with robbery, a level 3 felony. Charges of auto theft, resisting law enforcement, intimidation and battery resulting in moderate bodily injury were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
Prater was sentenced in Kosciusko County Superior Court 1 on Thursday, Feb. 27.
On June 28, 2019, officers with the Warsaw Police Department responded to a robbery in the Owens Supermarket parking lot. At the scene, officers spoke with a woman who said she was sitting in her vehicle when two people, later identified as Prater and Jennifer M. Davis, came up to her vehicle.
According to court documents, Prater opened the driver’s side door of the vehicle and told the woman to get out of the vehicle or he would shoot her. Prater then grabbed the woman’s ears and removed her from her vehicle. Davis and Prater then entered the vehicle and drove off, running over the woman’s foot. The woman also complained of neck pain and scratches on her neck from being removed from the vehicle.
A Winona Lake Police officer found the stolen vehicle in the area of Kings Highway and 15th Street in Winona Lake. Both Davis and Prater fled the area in different directions. An Warsaw Police officer found Davis, who said that taking the vehicle was Prater’s idea because he wanted to get out of town.
During his statement to the court, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Brad Voelz said Prater was not in possession of a gun at the time of the incident even though he threatened to shoot the victim.
“Jennifer said she and Matthew were on a four-day drug binge prior to this incident,” said Voelz. “Some type of rehabilitative program while Matthew is at DoC (Indiana Department of Corrections) would be beneficial.”
“This was a terrible decision fueled by drugs,” said Defense Attorney Karin McGrath. “Matthew is incredibly grateful to participate in RWI (Recovery While Incarcerated) while serving his sentence at DoC.”
“I’m very remorseful,” said Prater. “This was horrible decision-making on my part.”
Judge David Cates acknowledged Prater’s substantial criminal history and noted that a lot of Prater’s history stems from substance-related issues.
Cates sentenced Prater to 12 years in the Indiana Department of Corrections and recommended Prater participate in the RWI program. Prater has 235 days of jail time credit in the case, with good time as calculated. A no-contact order is also in place between Prater and the victim.
In this case, Davis was sentenced on Jan. 23 and pled guilty to auto theft, a level 6 felony; and resisting law enforcement, a class A misdemeanor. Davis received a 3 1/2 year jail sentence, with two years and 338 days of the sentence suspended on probation. She also had 207 days of jail time credit in the case.