ITHACA, N.Y. – An Ithaca man was sentenced in Tompkins County Court on Monday afternoon after he was arrested last year for burglarizing a student apartment on South Aurora Street.
Christopher Talman, 54, was accused of breaking into a home on November 22, 2016 and causing significant damage to the property. According to Stavros Stavropolous, the landlord of the property, the house was occupied by four Ithaca College students who were on Thanksgiving break during the time of the burglary.
Stavropolous reported that he went to the house the morning of Nov. 22 to shovel the driveway when he saw the upstairs windows were open. When he checked to make sure other windows were not left open, he said he saw the entryway and kitchen in disarray through the front door.
According to the police report, Stavropolous said there was extensive damage to the cabinets, counters, the stove, chairs, desks, dressers, mattresses, and various other belongings in the home. Court documents say there was also fire damage caused to the floors and walls.
Upon entering the apartment, Stavropolous said he saw the back of someone’s head sitting on the couch, who was later identified as Talman.
Assistant District Attorney, Alyxandra Stanczak, said all the victims of the crime were to receive restitution for the damages to the property – Stanczak said Talman is currently facing over $13,000 dollars in restitution.
She added that this was a mental health driven crime and Talman has struggled with a history of mental illness. According to Stanczak, Talman has refused mental health treatment in the past and was homeless at the time of the burglary.
“The defendant’s stability within the community needs to be addressed,” she said. “The defendant is homeless – in order for him to be successful, he needs a place where probation officers can keep in touch with him.”
Talman said the burglary happened during a ‘tantrum’ and described the event as ‘an act of God’.
“I didn’t know these people, it wasn’t personal, what happened – I don’t understand it,” he said. “I feel better, I feel strong, and I want to thank the probation department for holding my hand through this confusing and upsetting case.”
Judge Joseph Cassidy told Talman that his actions caused more than just physical damage to the property after the burglary.
“The people who lived in the home said the events caused significant psychological harm,” he said. Cassidy added that multiple students whose home Talman broke into reported they experienced nightmares, difficulty sleeping, social anxiety, feeling a sense of safety in their home following the event.
“If this was an act of God, it was an act that caused significant negative impacts on the victims as well,” Cassidy said. “I believe you when you say it was an accident, but it is an accident that cannot happen again.”
Talman, who spent 218 days in Tompkins County Jail for the crime, was sentenced to five years of probation on a charge of second-degree criminal contempt.