Early inmate release a ‘kick in the gut’ for Chehalis burglary victim

The burglary was more than two years ago, but it still hurts Keith Heldreth.

“He did a real fruit basket upset on my wife and I here,” said Heldreth.

Heldreth’s trailer was stolen out of the front yard of his Chehalis home in December 2017. He said there were more than $100,000 worth of collectibles, tools and memorabilia stored in the trailer.

One of the men convicted of the burglary, Shane Poeschl, is on the state’s list of inmates who will likely be released early to create more room in prisons because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s a kick in the gut,” said Heldreth.

More than 1,100 inmates may get their sentences shortened under a proclamation by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. A Department of Corrections spokesperson said they could be released early. As of Wednesday, more than 340 had been released early in an attempt to create social distancing space within state prisons.

Inslee said only those with convictions for non-violent crimes with fewer than eight months remaining on their sentences were being evaluated for release.

Forty of the potential early releases were convicted of crimes in Lewis County, where prosecutor Jonathan Meyer has been warning victims what might happen.

”I have talked to some victims who are obviously upset, and I think it’s justifiably so,” said Meyer. ”You have this certain amount of closure and now we’re kind of just ripping the Band-Aid off.”

Heldreth is still waiting to get more than $23,000 in restitution payments from Poeschl, the man who stole his trailer.

“I feel like we’re prisoners in our own house and yet the prisoners are going free,” said Heldreth, “How messed up is that?”

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