Former DWU student gets probation in dorm theft caseVincent Piercefield, 18, ordered to pay restitution.
By: Chris Mueller, The Daily Republic
A former Dakota Wesleyan University student was sentenced Tuesday to four years of probation and ordered to pay more than $1,200 in restitution for stealing from dorm rooms in November.
Vincent Piercefield, 18, told the court Tuesday he is “truly sorry” for his actions.
“I want to take my time to apologize to Dakota Wesleyan University,” Piercefield said. “I’m not here to blame anyone but myself.”
Piercefield pleaded guilty in February to second-degree burglary and accessory to a felony. He is one of five students who have admitted to being involved in the theft of several items from dorm rooms in Dayton Hall at DWU during Thanksgiving break, while many students were away from campus.
Judge Sean O’Brien sentenced Piercefield to four years in prison for burglary and another two concurrent years for accessory, but agreed to suspend the execution of the sentence contingent on the terms of probation.
Piercefield was also ordered to pay $1,226.96 as his share of the $3,816.49 owed in restitution among the defendants in addition to a $500 fine and court costs.
“You violated a lot of people’s trust, people that knew you and respected you,” O’Brien said.
“I think you have a bright future ahead of you if you just get your head screwed on straight.”
O’Brien said he might be willing to suspend the imposition of Piercefield’s sentence if he performs well on probation.
“You’ve got three strikes and you’re out,” O’Brien told Piercefield, who was a member of the DWU baseball program. “Right now you’re on your second strike.”
Piercefield has a prior misdemeanor conviction for petty theft.
As of Tuesday, Piercefield was no longer listed as an enrolled student at the DWU Registrar’s Office. He discussed plans in court Tuesday to move back to California to be with family, but he could serve up to 10 more days in jail while paperwork allowing him to leave South Dakota is processed.
The other students who have admitted to taking part in the thefts — Darius Lawson, 19, John Jones, 18, Roscoe Lee, 20, and Ashley Styer, 18 — have all been in court for their involvement.
Lawson pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary in February and is scheduled to be sentenced later this month.
Lee, Jones and Styer all pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony and were sentenced in February to 90 days in jail, all suspended, and each ordered to pay restitution, a $250 fine and all other court costs. Misprision of a felony, a misdemeanor, occurs when a person conceals the fact a felony took place but did not participate in the act.
Styer was also ordered to comply with any disciplinary action taken by DWU, but Lee and Jones were not required to do so as they no longer attend the university.