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Deputies say 5 tried to break into Spring Hill home to 'settle a beef'

SPRING HILL — Five young men face criminal charges for their roles in trying to break into a home to confront a 20-year-old man, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

The men, three of them 19 and two 18, were arrested and booked into the Hernando County Jail early Thursday morning.

Stephen K. James, 19, Mbacke Leye, 19, Colin Joseph Mackiewicz, 18, Michael George Anthony Meredith Jr., 19, and Kendrick Smiley, 18, each face a charge of attempted burglary of a dwelling. Leye faces an additional charge of possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana.

According to the incident report, witnesses said a red sport utility vehicle pulled up in front of a home in the 400 block of Cobblestone Drive shortly after midnight. Witnesses said five men got out of the vehicle and attempted to "storm the door," twisting the doorknob and kicking, punching and hitting the front door with a baseball bat.

One witness told deputies that the men left but returned a few minutes later, trying to get inside the home through a sliding glass door in the back of the home.

Several people inside the home heard the men banging on the door, while others outside the home saw the group attempt to break into the home.

James told deputies they went to the home to "settle a beef" but that things got out of hand while they were there. Leye, Mackiewicz and Smiley said they tagged along because of a problem between James and the 20-year-old man inside the home. Meredith said they went to confront the man because of a dispute of someone being "robbed" but didn't know any details about the situation.

The man inside the home declined to provide a statement to the deputies.

The SUV, a red 1995 Nissan Pathfinder, belonged to Mackiewicz. Last month, Mackiewicz testified in the trial of Christian Rivera, who was ultimately convicted in the brutal pistol-whipping of two men at Amity Trails Park in January 2009.

Mackiewicz drove the car that Rivera rode in before the confrontation.

During a search of Mackiewicz's SUV, deputies found a stolen firearm and a check card that the teens had been using, authorities said.

Joel Anderson can be reached at joelanderson@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6120.

Deputies say 5 tried to break into Spring Hill home to 'settle a beef' 07/01/10 [Last modified: Thursday, July 1, 2010 8:05pm]
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