By Neal Putnam
A judge dismissed burglary charges against two adult suspects on Oct. 3, but he also ordered them to stand trial on receiving stolen property charges involving the “hot prowl” burglary series in Ramona.
El Cajon Superior Court Judge William McGrath said he dismissed the burglary counts against Skylor Rocky McGee, 19, and Garrett Paul Jackson, 18, because they didn’t enter people’s homes themselves.
According to testimony, McGee and Jackson either acted as a driver or a helper for juvenile suspects who actually entered people’s homes at night and took wallets, cellphones, and other items while the residents were sleeping.
McGee will go on trial Nov. 19 on a single count of receiving stolen property. Jackson’s trial is set for Dec. 10. Both pleaded not guilty after their separate preliminary hearings before the same judge.
Jackson was also ordered to stand trial for using someone else’s credit card to buy gasoline from Stars Gas Station, as well as receiving stolen property, heroin possession, and possession of Valium without a prescription.
McGee is free on his own recognizance, and Jackson remains free on $50,000 bond. Deputy District Attorney Shanish Aloor said after the hearing that no decision has been made yet as to whether his office would refile the burglary charges against both Ramona men.
During both hearings, the first names of two juvenile suspects were referred to as Austin and Kurt and they have apparently been charged in Juvenile Court in San Diego. Their names are not public record and the status of their cases could not be confirmed.
Michele Linley, the chief of the juvenile division of the DA’s office, said Friday she cannot disclose anything about it because juvenile proceedings are “confidential by nature.” She said the emphasis is on rehabilitation and not punishment.
“Under the law, I can’t disclose whether there is a case pending,” said Linley. “I can’t confirm or deny there is a case.”
Linley also said she cannot confirm or deny the number of juveniles who may be prosecuted for the Ramona burglaries.
In general, Linley said juvenile offenders often are considered wards of the court and frequently are given probation with custody in juvenile camps or facilities.
Linley said the issues in Juvenile Court revolve around “what’s going on in that minor’s life.”
Randolph Raines testified he woke up at 4:15 a.m. on June 20 and noticed his pants “weren’t where I left them.” He found his pants in the entry way of his home and his wallet was missing from a pocket.
Raines said he realized “something was drastically wrong.” He said his wife’s wallet was missing along with two cameras, a flashlight, cash, identification, and a 3-inch knife.
Raines told McGrath he discovered the burglar had entered through a bay window that was open, and the security screen was bent. He said the wallets and cellphone were found in some bushes about a block away.
Sheriff’s Detective Thomas Seiver said Raines’ credit cards were used at Stars Gas Station, a Circle K store, and a taco shop in Ramona just hours later. He said security cameras showed two men filling two gas cans without a vehicle.
Seiver said there were 23 “hot prowl burglaries” that were investigated by the sheriff’s department from January to June this year that also included car break-ins.
A truck license plate was revealed in a security camera and the registered owner was McGee’s mother, Seiver said. He said a search of the truck yielded two cameras and a knife that were missing from the Raines’ residence.
Additionally, a credit card receipt from Raines’ card in a taco shop purchase was found in McGee’s truck, said Seiver. McGee was arrested June 23, but he denied going inside Raines’ residence, he added.
Seiver testified he spoke to a juvenile defendant named Austin who admitted committing the Raines’ burglary. Austin said McGee remained in the truck as a driver, and he came back from Raines’ home with stolen property.
Attorney Olivia Gilliam, who represents McGee, argued in favor of dismissing the burglary charge because it was the juvenile who did the actual burglary. The prosecutor argued unsuccessfully that McGee was an aider and abettor by being the driver.
In Jackson’s hearing, Tina Hayes testified she woke up on June 3 at 6 a.m. and discovered someone had come into her home via a back door that she thought had been locked.
“My purse was missing. The back door was open and I knew something was up,” said Hayes.
Her husband’s briefcase was gone, and her iPhone, medications, wallet, and $40 were missing, she said. Someone used her credit cards and stole a gift card. About 10 days later, Hayes said a woman found her wallet and driver’s license on a dirt road.
Matthew Manning, who works at Stars Petroleum, said he saw some people pumping gas into gas cans on security camera footage. He wrote down a license plate number of a white Cadillac that he saw nearby.
Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel Harrison testified he searched Jackson’s home and arrested him June 23 after finding a small amount of heroin in aluminum foil and three Valium pills for which he didn’t have a prescription.
Seiver testified he talked to Jackson, who told him that two juvenile suspects “were bragging about committing some burglaries.” He said Jackson admitted to carrying gas cans to help one juvenile get gasoline.
Seiver said Jackson denied committing the Hayes burglary or pawning stolen property. He found no stolen property at Jackson’s home.
Jackson’s attorney, Charles Quirk, argued that his client didn’t personally use any stolen credit card and did not burglarize any home. The judge agreed to dismiss the burglary charge, but ordered him to stand trial for helping the minor get gasoline on a credit card and other charges.