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Perpetrators in Sturgis home invasion sentenced

August 22, 2018

STURGIS — A Sturgis man sentenced to the state penitentiary Friday is the last of four individuals sentenced for their role in a November 2017 Sturgis home invasion.

Azariah Job Conley, 18, had pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary and identity theft. On Friday, he received a 15-year sentence, with eight suspended on the burglary charge and two years suspended on the identity theft charge. Six other charges were dismissed.

In addition to Conley arrested in connection with the incident were Moses Isai Avila, 19, Elizabeth Loraine Mauk, 18, and Armando Louis Valdivia, 18, all of Fort Collins, Colo.

They were charged with a variety of felony crimes, including second-degree kidnapping, first-degree burglary, aggravated assault, and identity theft.

Valdivia received 15 years, with three years suspended. Avila received 12 years, with five years suspended, and Mauk was sentenced to five years, with 3-1/2 years suspended.

Because the home invasion was considered a crime of violence, each of those convicted must serve at least half of their sentence before they are eligible for parole.

They broke into a Sturgis home on Nov. 4, 2017, and punched, kicked, and bound with tape resdient Shari Neyhart, according to the law enforcement reports.

She told police the men wanted money from her because her son owed them $8,000.

During the invasion, the suspects reportedly shot Neyhart 14 times with a pellet gun, two shots to her eye and a dozen to her torso. She was initially transported to Sturgis Regional Hospital, then later transferred to Rapid City Regional Hospital for surgery.

Mauk, who did not enter the residence, but was charged as a co-defendant in the case, told police she had driven all the individual to the residence and subsequently drove them to nearby gas stations in an attempt to use the woman’s debit card.

The police also say one of the suspects bragged about the home invasion and mentioned being wanted for attempted murder for the incident on social media.

Kevin Krull, Meade County State’s Attorney, said although the perpetrators have little history of criminal activity as adults, the scary violent act was concerning. It also was drug related, he said.

“Hopefully it’s a wake-up call for them. If they don’t change, they are going to spend their lives in and out of prison,” he said.

Krull said the victim is doing well despite her ordeal.

“I’m amazed at how she has held up through all this,” Krull said.

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