Crime

Bellefonte man pleads guilty to robbery, assault

A Bellefonte man pleaded guilty Tuesday in Clearfield County Court to robbing an elderly woman and leaving her taped to her kitchen sink.

Christopher James Handte, 26, who is a state prison inmate, signed a plea agreement prior to his scheduled trial in February. He pleaded guilty before President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman to aggravated assault, two counts of robbery, two counts of burglary, arson, three counts of theft by unlawful taking, two counts of receiving stolen property, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, and access device fraud during plea and sentencing court. Ammerman sentenced him to a total of 15 to 30 years in state prison. Handte was ordered to pay more than $30,000 in restitution.

The charges are the result of Handte’s actions on Feb. 20, 2015, when he stole a vehicle that he later set on fire, and then he lied to an elderly woman to gain entry to her Morrisdale home. After he had a cup of tea with her, he bound her up with duct tape and fled with her cash and vehicle. The victim remained taped to the kitchen sink until she was discovered the next day, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

Handte’s attorney, Mike Marshall, argued that he should receive a sentence that would run concurrent with those he received in 2015. He is serving a one- to five-year sentence from Adams County and a six-month to three-year sentence for theft in Clearfield County. Handte is also finishing out a sentence on a parole violation from Westmoreland County, Marshall said.

Assistant District Attorney Joshua Maines said, “If ever there was a case that warrants a consecutive sentence, it is this one.”

Ammerman agreed and stated the new sentence will run consecutive to the other ones.

More than a dozen people were in court in support of the victim, who addressed the court stating, “He hurt me and everyone who cares about me.”

“He took 15 years off my life,” she noted.

Handte addressed the court, apologizing to “all” the victims for putting them through this. He added that he hoped the victim could overcome this incident, but he stated he would be reliving it for the rest of his life.

Ammerman credited Handte for accepting responsibility for his actions and signing a plea that allowed the case to be resolved without the victim suffering through a trial.

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