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Serial burglar sentenced to four more years in prison

A serial burglar was sentenced today in Jackson County Circuit Court to four years in prison for an interrupted burglary on Jasper Street in 2010.

On Jan. 4, a jury found Matthew Keith Bertrand, 29, guilty of first-degree burglary and first-degree theft. The jury also found the defendant had a habit of "persistent involvement" in this type of activity, said prosecutor Jeremy Markiewicz.

Today Judge Lorenzo Mejia handed down a sentence of 48 months for the burglary, and a six-month concurrent sentence for the theft charge. Bertrand was ordered to pay $3,839 in restitution. Charges of first-degree theft and vehicle theft were dropped.

In April 2011 Bertrand pleaded guilty to four first-degree burglary charges related to a string of break-ins in the spring of 2010 and was sentenced to about 7 years in prison. He also was ordered to pay more then $4,000 in fines, fees and restitution to his victims, court records show.

One of Bertrand's victims, Laurie Bradley, made an emotional appeal to the court prior to today's sentencing. Bertrand had stolen more than property in the interrupted burglary at her home; he had taken her sense of security and generational heirlooms, Bradley said.

Bradley searched local pawn shops in vain for a pearl necklace and other jewelry bequeathed to her by beloved family members, she said.

"To me they were heirlooms, passed down by my grandmothers," Bradley said.

At Wednesday's sentencing, Bertrand did not apologize for his crimes, instead arguing that he should be allowed to enter prison programs and qualify for early release.

"I really do want to change my life," he said.

Mejia said evidence at trial showed Bertrand's burglary of Bradley's home was interrupted. The fact that the burglary was a prior act to those which Bertrand previously pleaded guilty weighed heavily on him during sentencing, causing the judge to give Bertrand a stiffer sentence than usual.

— Sanne Specht