Burglary suspect appears in court

Posted: Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Bail will remain at $25,000 for a 19-year-old Juneau man charged with burglarizing two Mendenhall Valley homes in March, while another suspect remained at large Tuesday.

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Tyrel Matthew Pitka made his first public court appearance Tuesday in Juneau District Court. Police arrested him Friday night after receiving a tip he was at a party in the valley. Officers had identified him as a suspect during an investigation of more than 40 burglaries in the valley since November.

Pitka now faces four felonies - two counts of first-degree burglary and two counts of second-degree theft, alleging crimes committed March 23 on Glacier Spur Road and Gladstone Street in the valley.

Police reported after the arrest that they expected to charge him with more of the recent valley burglaries. According to the affidavit Assistant District Attorney Doug Gardner provided to justify holding Pitka on the charges, the youth estimated he and an accomplice burglarized 17 to 20 homes in the valley with an accomplice.

The document states that police have identified the alleged accomplice. Late Tuesday, no arrest had been reported.

Saturday Sitka Superior Court Judge Larry Zervos initially set Pitka's bail at $25,000. The defendant has been lodged at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center since. Zervos also appointed the public defender's office to represent him.

Juneau District Court Judge Keith Levy kept Pitka's conditions of release in place Tuesday but appointed the Office of Public Advocacy to represent him in the future. Assistant Public Defender Eric Headland asked for the change, saying he has been told one of the witnesses against Pitka is represented by his office.

Levy set a preliminary hearing in the case for next Tuesday. If the defendant is not first indicted by the grand jury on felony charges, the state will have to show sufficient probable cause in support of felony charges to keep him in jail.

Firearms were reported stolen in both of the March 23 burglaries.

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