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The younger of two brothers accused in a series of burglaries in the Lyme-Old Lyme area has rejected a state's attorney's offer to plead guilty in exchange for an eight-year prison sentence.
The case of Karl W. Weissinger, 22, of Lyme has been added to the trial list in the New London court where major crimes are heard. He and his brother, Justin Weissinger, 26, are accused of breaking into six homes in Lyme, two in Old Lyme and one in Chester in late 2011 and early 2012, and stealing high-end jewelry, precious metals and antiques.
According to his court file, Karl Weissinger, who is represented by Old Saybrook attorney Jeremiah Donovan, turned down the offer after Superior Court Judge Hillary B. Strackbein told him he faces up to 240 years in prison if convicted on multiple larceny, burglary and conspiracy charges and is sentenced to the maximum terms. The plea deal involved a sentence of 12 years in prison, suspended after eight years served, followed by five years of probation. Had he accepted the offer, Weissinger's attorney would have had the right to argue for a shorter prison term at sentencing.
Weissinger is free on bond while his case is pending. His older brother Justin is accused of additional crimes and is being held in lieu of $550,000 at the MacDougall-Walker Correction Institution in Suffield.
Prosecutor David J. Smith has offered Justin Weissinger the option of pleading guilty in exchange for a sentence of 15 years in prison, suspended after 11 years served, followed by five years of probation. Weissinger, whose next court date is Jan. 23, has not yet told the court whether he would accept or reject the offer. He is represented by attorney John E. Franckling.
The case of Mystic jewelry store owner Matthew L. Hopkins, who is charged with larceny by possession for allegedly buying about $200,000 worth of stolen items from the two brothers, is pending in the same court. He is represented by attorney Michael L. Cozzolino and is due back in court on Jan. 17.
A few of the burglary victims from Lyme have been closely tracking the progression of the cases and attending the defendants' court appearances. The prosecutor has asked attorneys for the three men to stipulate to using pictures of the stolen goods as evidence so that the property can be returned to its owners.