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'Parent's Worst Nightmare'

Former Karate instructor sentenced for attack on family in their Vienna home.

Shortly past midnight on the anniversary of his mother’s death on Oct. 2, 2005, karate instructor Andrew M. Jacobs broke into the home of his former students, 10-year-old twin girls.

"The girls trusted the defendant, they liked him and trusted him," their mother testified at Jacobs’ sentencing hearing Friday, June 16 in Fairfax County Circuit Court. "I remember vividly when I had to tell them who it was … and they looked at me … [and said], ‘Why would he do that?" And I had no answer for them. I really wish I had an answer."

"Psychologically, the house has not been the same since that night. I go to sleep every night and I see him standing at the door," the father testified at Jacobs’ sentencing hearing Friday. "He may not have taken money or valuables, but he took their trust."

Judge Klein sentenced Jacobs, 43 of Vienna, to 30 years in prison for burglary, abduction and attempted abduction. Klein suspended 24 years of the sentence, so Jacobs will serve six years in prison.

"I have no answers to why you committed such heinous crimes against people you knew and you liked," Klein said, at the end of the one-hour hearing.

"I take very much into consideration rehabilitation for the victims," he said. "Maybe I can let them sleep a little easier … and a little more secure that something like this won’t happen again."

<b>JACOBS CUT</b> towels into strips in the laundry room of the home with a knife he brought to the house. He told police detectives that he intended to use them to keep everybody quiet as he stole money, jewelry and electronics, according to search warrants filed in the case last fall.

Jacobs went to the bedroom of his students who were sleeping. As he forced a towel into the mouth of one of the girls, she alerted her twin sister who grabbed Jacobs’ leg and bit his finger before Jacobs punched her twice, Birnbaum said at Jacobs’ plea hearing in February.

"It is ironic that the children responded to the attack in the manner in which they were instructed by the suspect during their lesson," said Vienna Police Capt. Mike Miller after Jacobs’ arrest. "This response by the children is what alerted the parents of the intruder in their home."

The parents "lived every parents’ worst nightmare," said Judge Klein. "In the middle of the night, they heard their 10-year-old girls scream and when they ran down the hall, they saw a masked man."

The father exchanged punches with Jacobs while the mother struck him in the head several times with a lamp.

"Because the offense was committed at the house, the house is a reminder of the offense. And even though it should be the safest place for them, it cannot be," said Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Marc Birnbaum.

Police arrested Jacobs the next day in his Vienna home close by.

<b>NO CONCRETE ANSWERS</b> were given as to why Jacobs, a defendant who had no past criminal history, did what he did, despite the testimony from his defense attorney, a psychologist and two of his siblings.

Jacobs was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder and borderline intellectual functioning, according to medical testimony.

"He realizes he did a very bad and wrong thing," the psychologist testified, but "I don’t think he understands all that went into his crime."

Jacobs’ brother and sister testified that the crime was "totally out of character."

"I was in shock when the officer told me what they were charging Andy with. That is not Andy’s normal behavior at all," testified Alison Jacobs.

Judge Klein received numerous letters in support of Jacobs, including from people at the martial arts studio where Jacobs taught, he said.

One motive emerged Friday: Jacobs was upset that the girls stopped taking his karate class.

Jacobs compared the emotions of grieving his mother’s death with the loss of the twin girls from his class, according to the psychologist.

"He met two little girls he liked and got attached and then the girls got older and more independent and something snapped, something went wrong," said defense attorney Lavonda Graham. "This is a stupid crime by a person who was going through something that clearly took him out of his normal way of being."

Jacobs later told his probation officer that he broke into the house to scare the girls so that they would return to his class, Birnbaum said.

Judge Klein called Jacobs’ past "unblemished" and "very positive," and "when sentencing an individual I can and should take that into consideration when deciding what the sentence should be."

But punishment has to factor into the equation, Klein said. "The [parents] will and their daughters will never feel safe in their home."