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Archive for Wednesday, April 18, 2001

Police-theft suspects found guilty

April 18, 2001

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Two men accused of stealing an off-duty policeman's pistol, uniform, badge and police radio from his vehicle were found guilty Tuesday in Douglas County District Court.

Sky Betsellie, 18, and Mark Roberts, 20, both of Lawrence, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor theft and criminal damage. The pleas came Tuesday on a day originally scheduled for the men's preliminary hearing.

The plea agreements reached by their attorneys and the Douglas County District Attorney's Office reduced the charges but will require the men to pay damages and also serve 10 days in jail, Assistant Dist. Atty. Jerry Little said.

Betsellie and Roberts admitted to breaking into a Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck owned by a Lawrence police officer on March 3. The truck had been parked in the 800 block of Vermont Street when the suspects broke a window and stole items, which included a service handgun, police radio, uniform and badge, Little said.

Police found the two men walking in the 1700 block of Massachusetts Street after hearing "unprofessional" radio traffic on the airwaves. Both men were arrested and admitted to the theft during questioning, Little said.

Original charges included felony burglary and theft, along with misdemeanor criminal damage, but those were reduced to the two misdemeanor theft and criminal damage charges. The two also admitted to breaking into other vehicles, but prosecutors agreed to refrain from filing charges in those incidents, Little said.

District Judge Robert Fairchild accepted the pleas and found the two guilty. Sentencing was scheduled for May 24.

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