Kennewick man gets 2 years in burglary case

A Kennewick man who was high when he broke into a home and startled a sleeping couple will get drug treatment while he spends two years in prison.

Daniel Dean Hafer, 28, was sentenced Wednesday in Benton County Superior Court for his guilty plea last month to residential burglary.

Hafer admitted being on drugs when he was found in the South Huntington Loop home early May 9, but denied trying to steal anything. He had taken off several pieces of clothes while standing in the couple's bathroom.

"The homeowner's purse showed signs that it had been gone through, but nothing was stolen and no one was harmed," Hafer wrote in his plea statement.

Hafer lived with his father a few blocks away on the same street.

He claims he started using drugs at a young age and would steal stuff to support his habit. His lawyer, Sylvia Cornish, told the court that her client was "exposed to drugs at birth."

Judge Craig Matheson had the option to give Hafer a sentence above 31/2 years, but decided that the longtime drug abuser appeared ready to get help.

Hafer was evaluated July 25 in the Benton County jail because he was asking for a prison-based Special Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative, and state Department of Corrections officials determined he is chemically dependent.

Under the special program, he will do two years and one month in prison, followed by the same time on community supervision.

"I hope you use every day of it well," Matheson told Hafer. "I just have a sense you will do well with this. I hope you do."

According to police and court records, the couple awoke at 2 a.m. to find Hafer in their bathroom. He had removed his shorts and shoes.

The homeowners -- a 55-year-old woman and her 69-year-old husband -- did not know Hafer.

When confronted, he ran outside, leaving his clothes behind. Patrol officers, with help from detectives in the Kennewick department's Criminal Apprehension Team, surrounded the area and used a police dog to track down Hafer hiding under a porch.

He had four outstanding arrest warrants at the time.

On Wednesday, his attorney said that drug treatment in prison offers the best chance for Hafer to get his life under control and stop re-offending. He is getting older and can't keep doing this, Cornish added.

Deputy Prosecutor Julie Long read a statement from the victims. "They hope the young man gets help so he can have a good chance at life," said Long.

Hafer told the court that he has given all of his addictions to God and wants to change his life. "I'm ready to change," he said.

Matheson told Hafer, "These people care about you as a human being even though you broke into their home. I think that says a lot about them. ... People are entitled to feel secure in their homes."

Hafer also was sentenced to 364 days in jail on a second Benton County case, though it will be done at the sametime he is in prison.

In early July, he entered an Alford plea to attempted forgery, saying he didn't commit the crime but believed a jury could convict him based on the state's evidence. He opted to take advantage of the prosecutor's plea offer, which reduced the charge from forgery.

In that case, Hafer took a forged check to Ace Check Cashing on West Clearwater Avenue on Sept. 26 and tried to get the payment. The $800 check written to him was from Coyote Run RV Park in Connell, court documents said.

Because he did not have an account with Ace Check Cashing, the clerk took a copy of Hafer's driver's license and contacted the RV park's owner to verify the check's accuracy, documents said.

The clerk learned the check had been stolen and was forged, then returned to confront Hafer only to learn he had left, said documents.

Hafer's criminal history includes possession of drugs, two cases of malicious mischief and five separate cases of second-degree theft.

-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com