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Court hears 'a tale of two trailers'

Juneau man on trial for burglarizing Glacier View trailer

Posted: June 6, 2012 - 12:02am
Glacier View Trailer No. 97 is seen in this photograph taken Tuesday. Prosecutors say it was burglarized by Hoyt Galvan, whose jury trial began Monday and continued Tuesday in Juneau Superior Court.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Glacier View Trailer No. 97 is seen in this photograph taken Tuesday. Prosecutors say it was burglarized by Hoyt Galvan, whose jury trial began Monday and continued Tuesday in Juneau Superior Court.

Trailer No. 97, a single-wide trailer in Glacier View Mobile Home Park off Stephen Richards Drive, was once outfitted with the usual appliances and living arrangements: a stove, fridge and microwave in the kitchen; a television set and a sofa in the living room; towels and a towel rack in the bathroom.

But when its owners returned to Juneau last summer after leaving it vacant for about two and a half months, the trailer was completely gutted. The chandelier over the kitchen table? Missing. The furnace? Ripped out of the wall. Even the floor vents, light switch plates, towel rods and the shower head had been stolen.

“Everything down to the light fixtures had been taken from the trailer,” Assistant District Attorney Angie Kemp said.

Instead, heaps of clothing and garbage were found strewn about the floor. Dark curtains covered the windows and were duct-taped to the floor so no one could peek inside. Urine stains soiled the carpet, and the smell of diesel from spilled heating oil was thick in the air.

And someone was still in the back bedroom.

Employees of the Anchorage-based Eastside Carpet Company, who purchased the trailer as a temporary residence as they worked on an ongoing renovation project in the U.S. Federal Building in Juneau, testified in court on Tuesday that they returned to Juneau on June 27, 2011, and went to the trailer to drop off their belongings before they headed straight to work.

Employee Aaron F. Woodward, who flew down from Anchorage with two coworkers, said it took a moment to realize something wasn’t right.

“Actually, I didn’t notice anything until I got back to the back room and the door was locked, and then it was a reality check. And then I started noticing, (and said) ‘OK.’ Kurt was behind me, and we pounded on the door and said, you know, ‘Who’s here? You need to get out of here,’” Woodward said. “And then we kind of backed up and walked down the hallway because we didn’t know what to expect, and we were like, the fridge — everything’s missing. And that’s when I was like ‘Wow, everything’s gone.”

Woodward said he never saw the suspect’s face as the unknown person ran out of the trailer’s back door. He only saw his backside, he said. The labor foreman for the project testified he did not hear or see the suspect at all since he was outside the trailer paying the cab fare.

Despite not being seen head-on, the suspect left some clues and evidence behind at the scene that eventually led police to arrest 55-year-old Hoyt Galvan as their primary culprit.

Galvan’s jury trial began Monday and continued Tuesday in Juneau Superior Court before Judge Philip Pallenberg. He is facing first-degree burglary, second-degree theft and third-degree criminal mischief charges. Those are all felonies.

Galvan denies ever stepping foot in the company’s trailer, said Galvan’s attorney Thomas Collins. The trailer attracted many squatters when it was vacant from April 8 to June 27, none of whom was his client, Collins said during his opening statement.

To prove that, Collins points to the fact that when the Eastside Carpet employees called police on June 27, they described the suspect as being a 5’9” Native man in his 30s. That description does not match Galvan.

Another piece of evidence that goes with the defense’s theory, which Collins pointed out to the jurors, is that police found a cell phone inside the trailer that didn’t belong to Galvan.

“My theory is obviously that the place was (empty) for a couple of months, but I think a bunch of people came and went from that place,” Collins said.

Police, however, found Galvan’s fingerprints at the scene.

Juneau Police Department Detective Krag Campbell testified Tuesday that officers lifted Galvan’s fingerprints off the duct tape that was used to pin the curtains to the floor.

Campbell said they also found a birthday card addressed to Galvan that had his birthday on it, June 8.

Prosecutors described Galvan as being “primarily homeless,” but said he sometimes resides with his stepdaughter who lives in the same mobile home park in Trailer No. 60 with two other people.

Prosecutors said many of the stolen items were found in Trailer No. 60, an allegation that prompted Kemp to call the case “the tale of two trailers” where “the common denominator is the defendant.”

The 12 jurors and 1 alternate looked at pictures of the allegedly stolen stove, fridge, microwave, TV, sink, kitchen faucet, curtains, chandelier and the like inside Trailer No. 60.

The state also called a witness to the stand on Tuesday, William Benedict, who testified that he helped Galvan transport a refrigerator in the middle of the night.

Benedict said he was a construction worker who lives at Glacier View, and described himself as Galvan’s friend. Galvan knocked on his door when he was sleeping, and asked him for help since he had a box truck, Benedict said.

Galvan already had the tall, white fridge strapped into a dolly, and just needed help transporting it down a couple of blocks, Benedict said.

Benedict helped get the fridge off the ramp of his truck and left. The whole thing took about 15 minutes, he said.

Benedict said he never asked any questions about where the fridge came from and didn’t remember where exactly he dropped it off. He said the same thing in a recorded police interview with Campbell, which was played for the jury.

Eastside Carpet labor foreman, Daniel N. Baker, who also owned part of the business at the time, told the jury that the total amount in damage to the trailer in terms of replacing the things that were stolen and damaged was more than $13,000.

That doesn’t include the $25,000 the company had to pay professionals to clean up the heating oil that continued to spill after the furnace was ripped out of the wall, Baker said.

The burglar had tried to clamp the pipes after the furnace was removed, but didn’t do it properly, he said.

The dripping oil then seeped into the ground underneath the trailer, he said. The Environmental Protection Agency has been monitoring the clean-up, Baker said.

The Regional office for the EPA could not be reached for comment by press time.

Baker said he traveled from Anchorage to Juneau at least seven times during the duration of the project. He said Eastside Carpet was awarded a bid to renovate the bathrooms in the Federal Building.

The employees first rented a home in Juneau as they completed the bid, then rented the trailer. The company ended up buying the trailer when it went up for sale while they were still renting it, Baker said.

“We were having a hard time finding a place for — I have anywhere from two to six employees with me all the time,” Baker said.

He said the company planned on selling it and renting it out after they were finished with their project.

After Baker was excused as a witness, he told the Empire he did not know who the suspected burglar or burglars were, but that they had caused “a lot of damage.”

“A lot of people were put out over this,” he said. “... Just feel violated. We had just purchased it, and all this damage is done.”

Baker said he no longer works for the company. Phone calls to the current business owners went unreturned Tuesday.

“I’m no longer an owner, but it would be nice if they could recoup some of their losses,” Baker said, adding, “And all my labor (in repairing the trailer) is not included in any of those figures. What work we could do, we did, and we didn’t charge.”

If convicted, Galvan could potentially face up to 10 years in prison for the burglary charge and five years each for theft and criminal mischief charges.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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