In the span of about two weeks in 2013, a Macon man broke into at least five homes across the city, stole two cars and led police on two chases.
Released from prison in 2012, he had served about two years in connection with six other burglaries from 2009.
Sentencing 29-year-old Aaron West Joiner to 20 years on Thursday, 10 of them in prison, Senior Superior Court Judge Bryant Culpepper told Joiner that he’d been a “one-man crime wave.”
When Joiner is released from prison, he’s banned from Bibb, Crawford and Peach counties.
Joiner, an Army veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and drug addiction, pleaded guilty to five counts of burglary, two counts of fleeing and eluding, two counts of theft, and one count of entering an auto last week in Bibb County Superior Court.
‘He should pay’
Dawn Tighe spoke during Thursday’s hearing, describing how she felt Joiner had targeted her house after going there as a plumber’s assistant in January 2013.
Tighe said she found Joiner standing beside her jewelry box with a drawer of the box open on the day he’d worked there.
Tighe, who lives near Westside High School, said she told the plumber and filed a complaint, but by the time the complaint was filed, Joiner no longer worked for the company.
Then, on Sept. 11, 2013, she got a call from her alarm company and went home. When she arrived, she saw a living room window was broken. Her brand-new laptop and some jewelry had been taken.
While some of the jewelry was recovered after Joiner tried to pawn it, the laptop was never found.
“I work hard for a living,” Tighe said. “I don’t think it’s fair what he did to me.
“I think he should pay for what he did.”
I think he should pay for what he did.
Dawn Tighe, a burglary victim
On Sept. 17, 2013, a man reported that his Hunter’s Trace home in north Macon had been burglarized. A ring taken from the home was pawned the next day, said Will Johnson, a Bibb County prosecutor.
Two days later, a woman reported her home on Darden Drive off Ingleside Avenue had been burglarized, Johnson said.
Frank Gaddy, a Macon attorney who was in law school when his College Street apartment was burglarized Sept. 22, 2013, also spoke.
He described how he returned from a friend’s home and discovered that his truck was gone and his home had been “thrown around.”
Two laptops with his law school notes, a gun given to him by his father and another gun had been taken, along with other belongings.
Later, outside, he saw his truck drive by, followed by police.
Joiner crashed on a bridge over Interstate 16, jumped over the bridge and ran away, Johnson said.
Joiner left his driver’s license behind in the car, and Gaddy saw it.
Gaddy said he had “night terrors” and Joiner’s face “haunted him” after the burglary.
“That type of person doesn’t deserve to be in civil society,” Gaddy said of Joiner, though he said he forgives Joiner.
‘I am sorry’
On the same day Joiner stole Gaddy’s truck, he also broke into a Toyota Corolla on Winton Avenue, off Napier Avenue, Johnson said.
The next day, he stole a Lexus from a home in Macon’s Shirley Hills neighborhood.
The owner of the car was showering when Joiner stole his briefcase and keys from inside the house, Johnson said.
A deputy spotted Joiner in the Lexus, and Joiner led authorities on a high-peed chase to Worth County, where he crashed the Lexus and was arrested.
Items from the Shirley Hills and Darden Drive burglaries and things taken from the Corolla were found inside the crashed Lexus.
Joiner’s lawyer, Larry Fouche, asked the judge to impose a more lenient sentence, saying, “If he could get the help he needs, he could get on the right path.”
If he could get the help he needs, he could get on the right path.
Larry Fouche, Joiner’s lawyer
Joiner’s mother also spoke on his behalf, apologizing to his victims but saying he needs “a chance.”
Johnson said prison substance abuse programs were available to Joiner during his first prison sentence. He completed a residential substance abuse treatment program in 2012.
Joiner turned around before being sentenced and told Gaddy and Tighe, “I do have a conscience. Whenever you’re fueled by drugs, you don’t really have a thought process. I am sorry.”
Asking the judge for mercy, Joiner said he hasn’t been the same since he served a tour in Iraq.
“I’d never have done these types of things before my deployment,” he said. “Post-traumatic stress disorder is real.”