June 18th, 2024

Man sentenced for role in home invasion

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on November 19, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

Helping a friend is normally considered a good thing, unless it’s helping that friend break into a residence.

That’s what Travis Jeremy Mertz did last January, when he and his friend, Brandon Marshall, kicked in the door to a northside home so Marshall could exact revenge on the homeowner.

Marshall had briefly resided at the residence, but the owner kicked him out and allegedly refused to return an $800 rent deposit.

On Jan. 25 the homeowner called police and told them someone was banging on the door. He heard a window smash and hid in the bathroom where he called 911 then heard someone break down the door to his house and enter.

Police arrived, noticed the broken glass and door, and announced that whomever was in the house was under arrest. Shortly afterward police saw two suspects leave the house through a basement window. Marshall fled on foot but was ultimately caught by a police dog, and Mertz, who did not run away, was arrested at the scene of the break-in.

The two men ransacked the house, causing about $1,600 damage, and when Mertz was searched, police found a .22-calibre pistol in his pants pocket, brass knuckles, cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, prescription medication and a mask.

“He was, at one point, observed wearing the mask, as well, and I would indicate this was not of the COVID variety,” Crown Prosecutor James Rouleau said Friday in Lethbridge provincial court, where Mertz pleaded guilty to charges of housebreaking with intent to commit an indictable offence, being disguised with intent, possession of a prohibited firearm, possession of a weapon knowing it is prohibited or restricted, and unauthorized possession of a prohibited or restricted weapon.

Mertz told police he was helping his friend and he found the gun in the house and took it because it “looked cool and western.”

Rouleau said when the homeowner refused to return Marshall’s rent deposit, Marshall decided to break into the residence while the homeowner was away, and recoup his losses by taking the equivalent in property. They didn’t believe the homeowner was in the house at the time.

“He felt bad for getting Travis Mertz involved in all of this,” Rouleau said. “He essentially brought Mr. Mertz along as backup.”

Rouleau said the homeowner didn’t know at the time who had broken into his home and was “very, very afraid for his safety.”

Lethbridge lawyer Darcy Shurtz told court Mertz never intended to harm anyone and he intended early on to plead guilty and resolve the charges.

“I think that, and his confession to police, shows his true remorse and his desire to resolve this and move forward,” Shurtz said.

Shurtz added Mertz was struggling with drug addictions at the time of he offence but is working to overcome those issues.

Mertz was sentenced to two years in a federal penitentiary and ordered to submit a sample of his DNA for the National DNA Data Bank. He is also prohibited for life from possessing weapons, and he must make restitution to the homeowner in the amount of $1,645.

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