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Man gets at least nine years for beating, robbing elderly woman

LISBON — A New Waterford area man who beat, tied up and robbed a 91-year-old woman in her own home was sentenced to at least nine years in prison in addition to another sentence he is already serving.

Cody Harmon, 32, state Route 46, New Waterford, appeared in Common Pleas Court for sentencing before Judge Scott Washam on Thursday after pleading guilty in March to aggravated burglary, felonious assault, tampering with evidence and grand theft of a motor vehicle.

Assistant County Prosecutor Steven Yacovone said Harmon was familiar with 91-year-old Helen Dilling and that she lived by herself with some family in homes nearby. Dilling was asleep when Harmon entered her home on Sept. 21, 2019 and she was awakened by the smell of cigarette smoke, according to Yacovone, so she barricaded herself in her bedroom.

Yacovone described the damage to the bedroom door caused by an ax, which Harmon used to break open the door. He then tied her up to the bed and repeatedly punched her, Yacovone said, leaving her with severe swelling and bruising.

Dilling was able to get untied and went outside to get to her vehicle, but Yacovone said Harmon had stolen the vehicle, a 2019 Chevrolet Equinox, which was later found burned in Pennsylvania.

Dilling managed to walk to her son’s home, where her grandson out in the driveway saw her and help was called.

Yacovone said there was no doubt it was Harmon who committed these crimes. A cigarette butt found in the home had his DNA on it when it was sent to a lab. Dilling was able to pick him out of a line up and Harmon was later found with burns all over his body, believed from burning the car.

Yacovone said he has been in contact with Dilling’s son, who says she remains full of life. He was asking for the nine years to run consecutive with the other three and a half years Harmon is serving in another matter due to the “vicious nature” of the crimes against Dilling.

Harmon and his defense attorney, Paul Conn, denied Harmon viciously beat Dilling during the commission of the crime. Conn noted Harmon took responsibility for what happened and had tied her up with shoelaces and possibly a dog leash, but in such a way that Dilling was able to free herself more than once.

Conn asked for Harmon’s sentence to run concurrently, noting he has been in custody since Sept. 23, 2019, two days after this happened. However, court records show the other case was in part from a burglary and gas can stolen on Oct. 1, 2019.

Conn questioned why that case and the other case Harmon is currently serving time on were not indicted at the same time when the evidence shows Dilling gave Harmon’s name to police during the first interview they did.

“What did Mrs. Dilling ever do to you,” Washam questioned Harmon?

Harmon said it was drug related and said he only tied her hands together to keep her from going for a phone. He said Yacovone’s description of the beating was “way over exaggerated.”

“It was nothing I would do sober,” Harmon said. “She was not viciously beaten.”

“You say you were on drugs, but I just don’t understand how in any way that is a reason to subject anyone, including a 91-year-old woman, to what happened here,” Washam said, adding it may be an excuse in Harmon’s mind but not his.

Conn said he believes Harmon was only offering it to help explain it but not as an excuse.

Washam sentenced Harmon to a minimum of nine year with a possible 13 and a half year sentence and ordered the sentence consecutive to the other prison term he is serving for failure to provide notice of a change of address, burglary and theft.

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