One of three accused business vandals pleads no contest, gets time in prison |

One of three accused business vandals pleads no contest, gets time in prison

Adam Jensen

One of three teenagers suspected in a string of vandalism incidents and burglaries at South Shore businesses pleaded no contest to 12 felony counts in El Dorado County Superior Court on Thursday.

Judge Jane Funneo ordered John Thomas Stewart, 19, to three years and four months in state prison after the pleas, which were part of an agreement between El Dorado County Assistant District Attorney Hans Uthe and defense attorney Paul Palant.

In April, Uthe filed a 43-count criminal complaint charging Stewart; Joshua James Spier, 19; and Ryan Gene Withnell, 19, with a total of 99 felonies.

The felonies Stewart pleaded to Thursday included conspiracy to commit a crime, possession of a deadly weapon and 10 counts of commercial burglary.

Eleven further felony counts, mostly vandalism charges, were dropped as part of the agreement with Stewart.

Stewart faced a maximum sentence of 10 years and eight months for his role in the crime spree, Uthe said.

The trio targeted the windows of 20 local businesses with rocks and BB guns, according to police.

Spier and Withnell appeared briefly in court Thursday.

The district attorney’s office has offered to allow Spier to plead no contest to a total of 16 felony counts, Uthe said.

Such a plea would carry a sentence of five years and two months in state prison, the prosecutor said Thursday.

Uthe has offered to allow Withnell to plead no contest to six felony counts, a conviction that Judge Funneo said would carry a sentence of a full year in El Dorado County Jail, according to Uthe.

Whether the two will accept the deals is unknown.

Spier and Withnell are expected to appear in court again June 9.

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