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Man gets five years in prison for stealing heat pumps

A Mitchell man who earlier pleaded guilty to third-degree burglary was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison.

Kelly Watts, 26, was accused in December of stealing heat pumps from a shed on the property he rented from Reimnitz Properties.

"In this case, I don't believe Watts has shown anything resembling the ability to be supervised in community," said Bob O'Keefe, deputy Davison County state's attorney. "Since his arrest in December on this case, he's picked up four new charges in Davison County, all of which are pending."

Also since December, O'Keefe said, Watts was convicted of a felony in Nebraska, absconded from obligations to this court case, continued to drink alcohol and continued to get into trouble -- including allegedly stealing a propane truck from Mitchell Technical Institute and rolling it in Bon Homme County. He has pleaded not guilty to stealing the truck from MTI.

Watts' attorney, Doug Papendick, asked for a suspended prison sentence to give Watts a chance to do well on probation.

"He suffered serious, life-threatening injuries as a result of the accident," Papendick said, referencing the propane truck accident. "Kelly doesn't remember anything from that incident."

Watts suffered a broken neck and two punctured lungs, Papendick added.

Judge Tim Bjorkman agreed with the state's recommendation and sentenced Watts to five years in prison, giving him credit for 45 days he's already served in jail.

Watts' first parole eligibility will be in July 2016, Bjorkman said.

Papendick disagreed with restitution requested by Reimnitz Properties -- $28,000 -- and requested a restitution hearing. Bjorkman ordered the state to schedule a hearing within the next six weeks to address restitution.