ELYRIA — Even though the three teenagers who broke into his house and shot him last August are going to prison, Philip Benko believes they won and he lost.
He’s got the scars, the medical bills and the fear to prove it, Benko told county Common Pleas Judge Raymond Ewers before the men were sentenced Wednesday.
“These people did this dastardly deed, and they need to pay,” he said.
Benko even pulled up his shirt to show Ewers the scars from the shotgun blast that tore into him during the break-in.
He said he has medical bills totaling $153,000, still needs two surgeries and that the Ohio Victims of Crime Compensation Fund has refused to give him any money because he had insurance that has paid him only about $4,300.
Benko said he already was living in fear when the break-in took place because during another, earlier robbery, he and his elderly mother were beaten by the robbers.
“Every night I have to walk around my house with a gun,” he said.
The three men — Dwayne Nelson, 18, Brian Adams, 18, and Charles Pavilack, who turned 19 Wednesday — all apologized to Benko before they were sentenced. They pleaded guilty to attempted murder, aggravated robbery and other charges earlier this year.
“I know you probably don’t care about me saying this, but I’m sorry,” Adams said before he was given seven years in prison.
Adams and Nelson — who pulled the trigger and was sentenced to 12 years in prison — both were juveniles when the robbery took place, but they were tried as adults.
Pavilack, who cooperated with police and requested that he serve his six-year sentence at a different prison than the other two, was an adult at the time of the shooting. One of his family members fled the courtroom after the sentencing, covering her mouth as she went.
Bill Willis, Nelson’s attorney, said after the hearing that the three teenagers didn’t plan to shoot Benko when they broke in, but when Benko fired a shot at them, his client fired back.
Assistant County Prosecutor Steve List said the teens knew what they were doing when they broke into a house armed with a shotgun.
After the hearing List told Benko: “We did what we could.”
But Benko said after leaving the courtroom that he wasn’t satisfied and his attorney, Chris Crobaugh, said Benko will sue the teens to help cover the medical bills.
“I have to live with this for the rest of my life,” Benko said.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.