Man gets 5-to-22 yearsin prison instead of life
An impassioned plea from a convicted felon may have convinced Circuit Judge David Sanders not to send the man to prison for life last week.
Steven Wayne Funt, 28, of Berkeley Springs had been facing a life sentence as a three-time loser when he went before the judge on Thursday, April 26.
Funt's record includes convictions for maliciously assaulting a man in 1997, possession of heroin with intent to deliver in 2004, and, most recently, two counts of stealing cars in 2005. He also escaped from the Anthony Center for Youthful Offenders while there for the malicious assault.
If he had been sentenced to life, Funt would have served a minimum of 15 years in the state penitentiary, with no time off for good behavior.
Given a chance to speak before his sentencing, Funt told the judge that while he had done what he was convicted of, he did not feel he deserved life in prison.
Funt said he was thrown out of his home at age 14 and had fended for himself ever since. "There was nobody teaching me to live out on the street," he said.
At the time of his most recent arrest, he had a job, he said.
Each time he was incarcerated, he begged for rehabilitation and took most of the courses available in prison. "They don't tell you how to live in society," he said.
"I want to learn to live on the streets. I'm not this bad guy. I haven't killed nobody. I haven't raped no female. I haven't touched no little child," Funt said.
Only one of his convictions was for a violent crime and that was from 10 years ago, he said.
As for showing remorse for his crimes, he asked: "What is remorse – to cry in front of you guys?"
Funt said he hoped there would be a halfway house or some sort of rehabilitation program that he could be involved with when he got out of prison.
After hearing Funt's remarks, Judge Sanders took a break before passing sentence.
Returning to the bench, the judge said: "This has been one of the most interesting and emotional sentences in a long time."
While Funt apparently doesn't recognize personal property rights and "has been a thorn in the side of the local law enforcement community," Judge Sanders agreed that a life sentence was disproportionate for his crimes.
Instead, he sentenced Funt to from 5-to-22 years in prison for two counts of grand larceny, and one count each of petit larceny and joyriding. One year of the sentence was a "felony enhancement" because of Funt's previous record. Funt was also credited with 566 days of jail time.
In addition, Funt must pay $1,2ll restitution plus court costs.