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3 years to serve for garage burglary last April

Posted: March 7, 2013 - 9:17pm  |  Updated: March 8, 2013 - 1:15am
Vicente Mednoza appears in Juneau Superior Court on Thursday for sentencing on  burglary at a residence last April.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Vicente Mednoza appears in Juneau Superior Court on Thursday for sentencing on burglary at a residence last April.

A man was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison with two years suspended for burglarizing a home on Pine Street last April.

That’s three years to serve for Vicente Mendoza, 32, plus five years probation.

Judge Philip Pallenberg also imposed another year and about 55 days for him to serve in unrelated misdemeanor cases for theft and criminal trespass, bringing his composite sentence to more than four years to serve.

Prosecutors say Mendoza stole boxes that contained about $500 worth of tools, including a battery charger, two paint sprayers, a Black&Decker drill and a circular saw from an open garage on April 17, 2012.

An alert neighbor called 911 after seeing Mendoza enter the garage and leave with the boxes concealed under his jacket. The homeowner later told police that he had only gone inside to check on his laundry for about five minutes when the items were taken.

The home is located in the Lemon Creek area within a mile of the police station, and all shift police officers responded to search for the suspect based on his description. About three minutes later, an officer saw a man matching his description run across Glacier Highway toward the swamp area from the creek side and recognized him as Mendoza from previous police contacts, said Assistant District Attorney Angie Kemp. But Mendoza darted into the woods and was out of sight by the time police got there. Kemp said later that day Mendoza tried to sell the tools at a pawn shop, but he had already left with another male in a vehicle before police arrived.

Mendoza was arrested three days later after the police executed a search warrant at his residence. He was charged with first-degree burglary, a felony that is punishable by up to 10 years in jail.

Mendoza initially denied his involvement and running from police, but eventually pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of second-degree burglary, a felony punishable by up to five years in jail.

On Thursday, he said he was taking full responsibility for his actions and said he penned a letter of apology to both the judge and the victims of the burglary.

“I just want to apologize,” he said.

His attorney, Assistant Public Defender Grace Lee, said Mendoza has substance abuse issues that have gone untreated, and noted she thinks treatment programs and felony supervision will help him with rehabilitation.

Assistant District Attorney Angie Kemp said the sentence reflects the community’s condemnation for such crimes.

“You can’t just go into other people’s houses and take things that don’t belong to you,” Kemp said. “It’s their sanctuary. It violates more than just their privacy, but their ability to feel safe within their own home.”

Kemp noted that Mendoza is quickly approaching a ‘worst offender’ status given his criminal history. He has prior convictions for larceny in 2012, theft in 2010, robbery in 2004 and burglary in 1996 when he was a juvenile.

Pallenberg ordered that Mendoza pay the $500 in restitution to the victims. He also warned that if Mendoza violates probation, he will impose the suspended jail time.

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

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