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Second man pleads guilty in Congdon Park home invasion

The second of two men who broke into a Congdon Park home and terrorized a mother and her 9-year-old son pleaded guilty Wednesday to all charges against him.

The second of two men who broke into a Congdon Park home and terrorized a mother and her 9-year-old son pleaded guilty Wednesday to all charges against him.

Jonathan Phipps, 20, pleaded guilty in St. Louis County District Court to first-degree burglary and two counts of kidnapping in connection with the Aug. 30, 2007, incident.

As part of a plea agreement, St. Louis County prosecutor Mark Rubin told Judge Shaun Floerke that the state would not ask for a longer-than-guideline sentence for Phipps. Rubin said he would seek two 57-month consecutive sentences for a total prison sentence of 9½ years, the same sentence Schiller received in July after pleading guilty to the same crimes as Phipps.

Rubin asked Phipps if he felt extreme remorse for what he did.

"I do,'' Phipps said.

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Phipps said he had known Schiller his whole life and felt pressured to take part in the crimes because he owed his friend money.

Defense attorney Kevin Cornwell reserved the right to argue for a lesser sentence. Floerke ordered that an Arrowhead Regional Corrections probation officer investigate Phipps' background before the court formally accepts the plea agreement. Sentencing will be held next month.

Phipps and David Schiller, 20, entered the home on the 3400 block of East First Street about 8 a.m., each armed with a gun. They woke the mother and her son, who were sleeping in their bedrooms, tied their hands with electrical zip ties and made them lie on the floor.

The victims told police that one of the men threatened to shoot the boy if the mother didn't tell them what they wanted to know. Phipps testified that Schiller threatened the mother. He said that he told the boy that nobody would get hurt.

During the plea hearing, Phipps did not implicate Ian Guzzo, 20, the third defendant charged in the crime. All three men are from Two Harbors. Guzzo was a hockey teammate of a member of the victims' family and often spent the night at the residence during the hockey season two winters ago. Evidence has been presented at pretrial hearings that Guzzo drew a map of the victims' residence that was used by Schiller in committing the crimes. Guzzo is charged with two counts of aiding and abetting first-degree burglary and one count of aiding and abetting kidnapping. His trial was scheduled Wednesday for Jan. 6.

Phipps testified Wednesday that Schiller told him he had "an inside man'' who helped him pick the house to rob, but said that Schiller never told him who that man was. Phipps said he expected to get half of the $50,000 Schiller told him was in the house's safe. He said the men fled when they found that there was no money in the safe.

Related Topics: CONGDON PARK
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