Jul. 24--DECATUR -- A 36-year-old Decatur woman pleaded guilty to residential burglary in Macon County Circuit Court and was sentenced to seven years in prison.
     Sara L. Smith was scheduled for trial this month but entered her plea June 20 before Circuit Judge Katherine McCarthy, who accepted the agreement Smith's attorney, Brian Finney, had worked out with Assistant State's Attorney Steve Langhoff.
     Smith was charged with entering two homes of elderly persons under false pretenses to steal.
     Her plea stemmed from a March 21 incident in which Smith entered the home of an 83-year-old woman about 7:30 p.m. while holding a small child after telling the woman that her car had run out of gas and she needed to use a telephone to call for help.
     Smith then asked the older woman for money for gasoline, and the woman gathered several dollars in change for her. After Smith had left her residence, the woman noticed Smith got into a car and drove away.
     The next day, the 83-year-old woman received a telephone call from an employee of a gas station on East William Street who informed her that someone had used her credit card to make a purchase. When the victim checked, she found her wallet was missing that had contained the credit card, $30 and her personal identification.
     In a sworn statement filed in court, Decatur police detective James Atkinson said charges on the older woman's credit card March 21 and 22 totaled more than $490. He said the purchases made with the card included cigarettes, alcohol and groceries.
     When Smith committed the burglary, she was free on bond in cases charging her with burglary and theft over $300. Those cases were dismissed as part of Smith's plea bargain with the state.
     Ron Ingram can be reached at ringram@herald-review.com or 421-7973.

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