Macon County Chronicle

Mennonite Attacker Sentenced to 60 Years

In October of 2009, the Chronicle reported on the arrest of four men, two from Macon County, involved in the brutal assault and robbery of an elderly Mennonite man and woman in Allen County, Kentucky.

Last week one of those men, 38-year-old Harley Elmer Cherry of Lafayette, received a 60-year prison sentence in the Allen County Circuit Courtroom of Judge Janet Crocker.

According to information reported in the Citizen-Times (Scottsville, Ky.), Cherry was said to be the ringleader behind the attack by witnesses and co-defendants. His arrest last year, along with the arrest of the three co-defendants, was a joint venture between the Allen County and Macon County Sheriffs Departments – all made just hours after the violent crimes occurred.

The assault and robbery of Mennonite John Inhoff and an elderly woman at their Highland Church Rd. home, was not Cherry’s first robbery conviction as he had previously served 16 years in an Ohio State Prison for the same offense. For his latest crimes, however, Cherry was sentenced to 20 years for first-degree robbery, 20 years for kidnapping, 10 years for second-degree burglary and 10 years for second-degree assault.

Others charged in the October 2009 attack were 21-year-old Carlos Alberto Lopez, also of Macon County, and two juvenile Hispanic men – one 14 years old and the other 17. A fifth male, who was only 10 years old, was also involved but wasn’t charged. All defendants, except Cherry, confessed to their roles in the crime and in exchange for their testimony against Cherry, were offered plea deals dismissing first-degree robbery charges.

Cherry’s partners in crime pled guilty to felony charges of kidnapping, second-degree burglary and second-degree assault. Carlos Lopez received a 10-year sentence and one juvenile, now 18 years old and identified as Guadalupe Lopez, received a 15-year sentence.

According to the Citizen-Times report, Commonwealth Attorney Clint Willis stated that testimony heard in the courtroom, pointed to Cherry as being the crime leader and the most violent defendant involved in the assault. Willis was also said to believe that a jury trial may have done further damage to Cherry’s case as the victims terrorized by the group of men, were subjected to overhearing their assailants discuss whether or not they would kill them.

“Any jury listening to that would have been outraged,” Willis told the Citizen-Times. “He got what he deserved.”

Willis also praised both the Allen County and Macon County Sheriffs Departments for their assistance in presenting a solid case.