Convicted church burglar sentenced to at least 36 months
Eric Joseph-Edward Eby, 19, of Sterling Heights, received a 36- to 120-month prison sentence with 98 days of credit Nov. 15 after pleading guilty to 14 felony charges — including breaking and entering, larceny, possession of burglary tools and safe breaking — that stem back to April 1, 2012.
Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Mary Chrzanowski handed down sentences of 36-120 months for Eby’s two safe-breaking felonies and 17-120 months for 10 other counts, but each will run concurrently. He owes restitution of $500 to St. Therese of Lisieux in Shelby Township and $750 and $18,679 to two business owners, respectively. Each charge also carries with it a $130 crime victim’s fee and $68 state cost.
Eby also received one to five years for violating probation on a concealed weapons charge and one to four years for possessing a Taser in January 2012, which will run concurrently with the other sentences.
“He admitted that he was wrong,” said Thomas Tomko, Eby’s defense attorney. “He has remorse. That’s the beginning of change. … When I was looking through the different letters I received in support, folks were talking about how bright his future is and that he does have a future.”
A large group of supporters gathered in the courtroom to hear his sentence, including Eby’s parents, relatives, friends and members from his parish, where his father, Mark Eby, said his son had asked for forgiveness and to not be excommunicated.
“He learned nothing by being put on probation,” Chrzanowski said. “I tried to rehabilitate him when I put him on probation with me. I tried really hard. He committed 22 new crimes that we know of.”
Ted Metry, Eby’s defense attorney from his prior convictions for which he was on probation at the time of his arrest on April 23, 2012, also stood before Chrzanowski.
“While it didn’t directly occur to me that something else was going on when he was found with that gun, I learned a little about his deception,” Metry said. “(Reading about his new crimes in the paper) surprised and hurt me. … He’s got to atone for this.”
When Chrzanowski gave Eby a chance to speak, he teared up briefly and said that he was ashamed of what he did and will try to pay back the restitution, even though Chrzanowski said the court would not likely see the restitution, because that is what he could do to fix what he did.
“I was on probation and the effect that my actions had on other people didn’t really occur to me,” he said. “But I’ve had this opportunity to look back and see it and see the hurt and pain these people suffered, and I don’t want to do that again.”
He added that he has emotional and psychological issues that create a disconnect between his actions and their effects, as well as a narcissistic attitude, and that he needs therapy to fix them.
In reading Eby’s description of offenses, including an incident in which a safe’s locking mechanism had been completely cut, possibly by a grinder, Chrzanowski told Eby that he was brilliant, a "mastermind" and far beyond his years.
“This wasn’t just walking into a 7-Eleven with a gun and saying, ‘Give me money,’” she said. “You knew exactly what you were doing. … I want to believe that you have a brilliant future ahead of you.”
Mark Eby said that while he was nervous throughout the proceedings, he had come to an understanding through frequenting the court that Chrzanowski is trying to help people, not see them cycle through the court and come back.
“I appreciate the balance she has struck,” he said. “I had confidence in Mary’s discernment to do the right and smart thing, and 36 months seems to me fair.”