A 36-year-old man from Mansfield pled guilty Tuesday morning to his role in a home invasion in the Salt Creek area last June.
Sean C. Genzer pled guilty to aggravated robbery and two counts of burglary of a habitation. He received a 40-year sentence in return for cooperating with authorities in solving the case.
Several more suspects await their turn in the courtroom for the crime.
“Seven people have been charged with various crimes,” said Assistant District Attorney Tim Cole. “Four were at the scene and three others were involved in the planning stages. All of them have been indicted.”
On the morning of June 12 last summer, homeowner Jody Ripple awoke to find a man with a pistol looming over him.
Ripple’s daughter-in-law, who was pregnant at the time, and his 2-year-old grandson, were also both in the house. It was 7:30 a.m. His son had left the house an hour earlier.
“I’d gone back to sleep, and I heard a bump, so I hollered for my grandson,” Ripple said. “I yelled again, and then I started to get up. That’s when I saw a guy coming through the French doors in my bedroom. He was pointing a pistol at me. He told me he was a bounty hunter.”
Genzer grabbed Ripple’s cell phone and stuck it in his pocket. Then he herded Ripple’s grandson and daughter-in-law into the bedroom upstairs.
“Then he took me outside,” Ripple said. “I thought he was going to shoot me in the head.”
Fortunately for Ripple and his family, the robbers left without any more incident.
“I kept the conversation calm,” Ripple said. “And I tried to keep as calm as possible. I knew not to get someone in that type of situation excited.”
Ripple, 51, owned the Salt Creek convenience store for years.
“I’ve lived here 20 years and never locked the door, never turned on the alarm,” he said. “Now I lock all the doors. Keep the outside lights on. Set the alarm. I have guns on hand. It’s not because I’m scared. It’s because I’m prepared.
“This used to be a house open all the time to my kids and their friends. Now it’s like a haunted house.”
Ripple said he was satisfied with Genzer’s sentence.
“I was real pleased with how Wise County has handled everything,” he said. “The Sheriff’s Office and DA’s office have been on top of everything.”
Ripple and his family were victims in the second home invasion in less than a week in Wise County last summer.
On June 8 in the Briar community, Marvin Zimmerman, 82, was subjected to a brutal home invasion where he was tied and beaten and left for dead bound to a chair. He was found days later in critical condition.
He died last month after never fully recovering from his injuries. Four men have received sentences for their involvement in that case.
Ripple’s case was similar to Zimmerman’s in that in both cases the suspects thought the rural houses would be easy hits and filled with wealth. In both, they came away without wealth, but hefty prison sentences.