A Springfield man who stabbed an 84-year-old World War II veteran in a 2013 home invasion will serve a 25- to 30-year prison sentence.
Roberto Hill Jr., 20, of 14 Arbutus St., pleaded guilty to home invasion and assault and battery charges Feb. 20, according to Springfield police Sgt. John Delaney.
In the early morning hours of March 17, 2013, Springfield police responded to two house breaks-ins on Garfield Street. In one of the homes, the veteran and his wife were startled in their sleep and confronted Hill, who then put a knife to the wife's throat and demanded money, Delaney said.
"As she was going to get the armed thug his money the 84-year-old husband came to the wife's defense and was stabbed by Hill in the abdomen and arm," Delaney said, adding that the man fled after he took their money.
Officers Daniel Billingsley and Clay Canning immediately responded.
"Their actions at the scene saved his life," Delaney said, adding that EMTs and doctors at the emergency room credited both officers with saving the victim's life by performing first-aid treatment. "If not for the actions of these well-trained officers, the war hero would have died."
The victim was treated for a laceration to his liver and a severed brachial artery, Delaney said. The veteran received nine pints of blood while being treated at the hospital.
Commissioner William J. Fitchet praised both officers.
"Officers Canning and Billingsley did a fantastic job saving this victim's life and taking part in the arrest of Roberto Hill. These officers deserve high praise and are great examples of why the Springfield Police Department is one of the finest law enforcement agencies in the state," Fitchet said. "These officers continue to serve the public on a daily basis and the citizens of Springfield are in good hands with officers like these protecting and serving them."
Canning has served Springfield since 1998 and Billingsley was a police cadet in 2006 and became an officer in 2010, Delaney said. Both officers are assigned to the third shift, which is from 12 a.m. until 8 a.m.
The veteran and his wife thanked Billingsley and Canning in a victim impact statement to the judge when Hill pleaded guilty in court last Thursday.
Copyright 2014 WSHM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.