Morrison man pleads guilty to pair of burglaries

MORRISON — A 25-year-old Morrison man, who together with a Morrison teen committed a pair of thefts this fall, pleaded guilty Tuesday to two criminal felony counts of burglary, receiving a sentence of five years in prison.

Colton M. Merema, arrested on Sept. 10, was initially charged with one count of residential burglary, a Class 1 Felony, and two counts of burglary – both Class 2 Felonies – after police said he broke into a residence by himself, and robbed a business and another residence with 18-year-old Logan D. Smith, of Morrison.

Prosecutors said Merema and Smith on Aug. 30 broke into a residential shed at 18876 Mellots Road, and on Sept. 2 robbed a temporary office owned by Inter Connection Systems Inc, a solar engineering firm located at 14488 Hillside Road.

The pair removed tools and other items from both locations, according to prosecutors.

Whiteside County Sheriff's deputies found the reported stolen items during a search of Smith's rural Morrison residence on Sept. 10, and Merema later admitted to committing the robberies with Smith, who is charged with two counts of burglary.

Deputies also discovered a significant amount of methamphetamine and a firearm in their search of the residence.

Those findings led to Smith facing one count of of possession of 15 to 100 grams of methamphetamine, a Class 1 Felony punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison, and one count of unlawful use of weapons for possessing a WARDS Hercules Model 10, 20-gauge shotgun with a barrel less than 18-inches.

Smith is being held in Whiteside County Jail on a $100,000 bond. He pleaded not guilty to the four charges on Sept. 28, and has a pretrial conference scheduled for Dec. 8.

Court filings further allege that Merema on Aug. 27 broke into and stole items from a residence at 19825 Matthew Road.

That residential burglary charge, along with a trio of traffic tickets, will be dismissed under Merema's agreement to plead guilty to the two burglary charges.

He was sentenced Tuesday by 14th Judicial Circuit Presiding Judge Trish A. Senneff to two concurrent five year sentences in state prison.

Merema will also be subject to two years of mandatory supervised release, more than $800 in fines and a restitution charge of $2,151.27 for damages related to the thefts.

According to court records, Merema has a history of burglary, theft and physical assault convictions spanning from 2011 to 2018.

Senneff acknowledged that criminal history Tuesday, telling Merema that his "permanent address seems to be the [Illinois] Department of Corrections" and that she hopes the IDOC doesn't have "a wing named after you."

Merema said that he was "very tired" of spending his adult life in custody.

"You're a young man, and still have time to pull this together," Senneff said. "I hope soon you see the light, that there's something to jolt you awake and make you see this has got to stop."