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Appeals court upholds Maeson Coffin's sentence in connection with Costello murder

The Indiana Court of Appeals has upheld the sentence of Maeson Lee Coffin who was accused of helping cover up the murder of Paul Costello and pleaded guilty to stealing his car, breaking into his home and stealing his valuables.

Coffin was sentenced to 12 years for burglary, 18 months for auto theft and 18 months for theft, all to be served consecutively.

Coffin appealed his sentence alleging the trial court abused its discretion in imposing consecutive sentences.

The Indiana Court of Appeals found his sentence appropriate after reviewing evidence presented at court.

In 2016, Coffin was renting a small residence on Costello's land that included his own home and several outbuildings.

In October 2016, Coffin allowed Gauvin Monaghan to live with him at the rental house.

Monaghan killed Costello and Coffin admitted to helping move Costello's body.

Monaghan and Coffin stole Costello's cell phone, power tools, a large TV, put them in Costello's vehicle and took them to South Bend and pawned the stolen items, according to court records.

The two then traveled to New York where Monaghan's mother lived.

On November 5, 2016, Costello's body was found outside one of the outbuildings covered with a barrel and some scrap metal.

Costello's cell phone was traced to a location in New York.

Monaghan's girlfriend and her mother went to the police station to provide information in the case.

The girlfriend told police in October Costello went to Coffin's home to collect unpaid rent from Coffin and Monaghan and an argument ensued, reports said.

She also told police Monaghan and Costello were in New York with Costello's vehicle, reports said.

In December 2016, Coffin was charged with conspiracy to commit murder, murder, burglary, auto theft and felony theft. He pleaded not guilty.

In December 2017, he accepted a plea agreement and pleaded guilty to burglary, auto theft and felony theft.

During sentencing, the sole mitigating factor was his guilty plea. Aggravating factors included his juvenile record, violation of trust with the victim, fleeing the area after the murder and assisting in covering up the crime scene, according to court records.

In reviewing his sentence, the appeals court found no evidence the trial court abused its discretion.

In this case, the circumstances of the crime are "far more egregious" than a normal burglary. Coffin assisted in hiding the body, then broke into a murder victim's home and helped the suspect escape, which does not qualify Coffin for a reduction in sentence, the appeals court wrote in the decision.

In addition, Coffin's character doesn't qualify as a mitigating factor that could reduce his sentence. He began drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana at age 15. He committed several crimes as a juvenile and was only 18-years-old at the time this crime was committed, according to the appeals court.

The appeals court also reviewed Coffin's remorse and his willingness to accept responsibility for his actions. They found the fact he failed to alert authorities after discovering Costello's murder and the fact it took him a year to accept a plea agreement, according to court records.

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