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Libby burglar sentenced to 20 years

| June 21, 2007 12:00 AM

Fifteen of 20 years suspended for sixth felony conviction

By KYLE McCLELLAN The Western News

A Libby woman was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison on a conviction of felony burglary.

A jury found Misty Dawn Surmon, 26, of Libby, guilty on June 6.

Judge Michael Prezeau handed down the 20-year sentence with 15 years suspended. Surmon will serve five years and then face possible probation for the remainder.

"I'd like to apologize for wasting the court's time and the families whose homes I broke into and the stress I caused them," Surmon said in the courtroom.

Prosecutor Grant Gibson said this is Surmon's sixth felony conviction in fewer than five years. Her previous convictions occurred in Washington.

He said she was a "professional burglar" and recommended she serve a 10-year sentence.

In court, Surmon's attorney, William Douglas, said Surmon was "exemplary" in a teen group she previously participated in and that her recent problems are the fallout from a bad romantic breakup.

But Prezeau said Surmon's reoccurring lawless behavior threatened the security that people expect to feel in a small town.

"You make people afraid to live in this little community," he said to Surmon.

"Before you did it here, you did it somewhere else."

Gibson said he was satisfied with the sentence.

"I think justice was done in this case," he said.

Surmon's attorney declined to comment on the sentence.

During September and October of 2006, Sheriff's reports indicated that a female suspect who matched Surmon's description entered at least four houses.

The suspect typically would enter the home through the front door and tell victims she was looking for a friend who she claimed used to live there.

On Oct. 28, the suspect walked into Linda Hightower's house on Kootenai River Road and asked to use the phonebook.

Hightower described the suspect as "well-dressed, in her late 20s" and smelling of "cheap perfume".

On Oct. 30, Surmon did the same thing at a house on Quartz Road.

But she was convicted on a charge stemming from an incident on Oct. 19, when she entered Laurie Dow's house.

Dow wasn't home but her two daughters were nearby at a chaperone's house. They saw the suspect walk inside and assumed it was their mom's friend.

When they walked inside to tell the suspect their mom wasn't home, they saw her rummaging through drawers.

Other victims reported that the suspect would ask to use their phonebooks and their bathrooms.

During the trial, victims in court identified Surmon as the suspect.