By Pedro Maturana and Kristen Tuntland
Burglar “Burrows” through Walls to Evade Capture
By Pedro Maturana
The case of James Jerald Elledge, Jr., reconvened Wednesday with the prosecution calling witnesses, including the resident of one of the burglarized homes in Davis. Elledge has been charged with a litany of offenses including three counts of burglary, vandalism, and resisting arrest.
Deputy District Attorney Shelby Davitt called the prosecution’s first witness, a resident at Tanglewood Apartments. The witness testified that between 6-8pm on July 25, 2018, she and her partner were sitting in the living room of their apartment watching YouTube. The couple had just moved in the day before the incident. Their apartment was scant with furniture, with sleeping bags instead of beds.
Suddenly they began to hear loud banging noises coming from their bedrooms. The banging grew louder and more frequent. When they went to investigate, they saw plaster falling from the ceiling.
The witness and her partner looked in the closet and saw plaster being pushed out from the closet wall until they saw a hand come through. The couple ran outside the apartment where the police had already arrived. They told the officers at the scene what they saw, and they were instructed to stay outside and hide under the stairwell.
Ms. Davitt asked the witness if she saw the suspect, to which she replied that she saw him being carried out in a gurney.
The prosecution then called their next witness, the resident’s partner, who was there with her that night. He testified that when they went to investigate the loud bangs, he saw sheetrock on the ground and a hole in the wall. The witness also testified to having seen an arm pushing through the wall in the closet.
The prosecution called the apartment manager at Tanglewood to the stand. She testified that the morning after the incident, Apartment 209 was in disarray. The washer and dryer were removed and there was drywall from the wall and the ceiling on the ground.
The witness testified that they immediately took action to make repairs and had to call outside contractors since the damage was “beyond their maintenance team.” The total damage for both apartments came to $1289.
Next, the prosecution called to the stand the Police Services Specialist of the Davis Police Department. The witness testified that she had been instructed to take pictures of the footprints left by the perpetrator at the crime scene. Ms. Davitt asked for the pictures that the witness took of the footprints be shown to the court. Footprints were found on the front door, indicating that the perpetrator may have kicked the door open. Next, Ms. Davitt showed the witness the shoes that an officer collected at the scene. The witness testified that the bottom of those shoes matched the footprints on the door.
The prosecution called Officer Ernest Roberts of the Davis Police Department to the stand. Mr. Roberts was instructed to follow up with one the residents of the burglarized apartments. On the night of July 25, 2018, the resident was asked to identify the suspect as he was handcuffed to a hospital bed. Officer Roberts asked her to remember the man she was shown on the night of the 25th. He asked her on a scale of one through ten, how sure she was that she properly identified the man. She said 9.
The prosecutor then asked the court to view the body cam videos of Officer Richard Squibbs taken after the incident. The silent video showed the officer entering the first apartment. The officer entered the bedroom and looked in the closet where a large hole was in the wall. Footage of the other apartment where the suspect first entered showed the apartment is disarray. There were things all over the floor, the washer and dryer were moved, and sheetrock and insulation were removed from the walls.
Defendant Undresses for Jury
By Kristen Tuntland
The defense attorney requested a viewing of the defendant in a white tank top in front of the jury, as the suspect of the burglary on July 25, 2018, was seen wearing a white tank top. The trial of Jerald James Elledge resumed this afternoon with three witnesses. He is charged with the burglary of three apartments, vandalism, unauthorized entry, and resisting arrest.
The first witness was one of the residents of the apartments burglarized. During the burglary, he was staying at a friend’s apartment in Davis because his roommate was out of town and he did not want to stay alone. Both he and his roommate planned on moving out a month after the incident anyway.
When he returned to his apartment, there were several police officers on location. He testified that some things he noticed included moved furniture, a hole in the ceiling, a hole in the closet drywall, a computer missing, coats missing, and his suitcase moved and packed with his roommate’s items. He recovered almost all of his missing items, except for a speaker.
Additionally, the door was damaged from police officers kicking in his door to find the burglar. He was in the habit of locking the door and all windows when he leaves his apartment, but there was an open window after the incident. After this, the witness never went back to live at the apartment.
The next witness was the roommate of the first witness, who was in China during July 2018 and heard about the incident through his roommate. He also recovered most of his property, except for an expensive gaming computer, a Nintendo switch, a PlayStation 4, headphones and a speaker.
The last witness was the continuing testimony of Corporal Michael Nash. He opened an evidence bag that included a white tank top, black jeans covered in drywall, jewelry, and a watch. These were the items the defendant was wearing when he was booked.
The prosecution showed Corporal Nash the mugshot of the suspect arrested on July 25, 2018, and asked if that man was in the courtroom. He confirmed the defendant as the man in the mugshot. He also commented that the defendant during the incident had a fit, average build, but was small enough to get through two studs in the wall.
Corporal Nash also stated that the packed suitcase in the living room is a common sign of burglary because burglars often try to pack near the door for a quick escape.
Both defense and prosecution asked questions at length about a specific freeway route in Davis. This route would take Corporal Nash an average of 6-10 minutes, depending on traffic, and he would chose this route over gridlocked downtown Davis during the night of the incident.
The afternoon session ended with defense requesting a viewing of the defendant with a white tank top on in front of the jury. Judge David Rosenberg allowed this request. The defendant was called to the stand and asked to take off his collared shirt and tie. After undressing on the stand, he stood up and slowly turned around twice so the jury could get a good view of the him.
After the jury was dismissed, the defendant was allowed to put his collared shirt back on and return to his seat next to his defense attorney. The court adjourned early for the day to prepare for closing arguments and jury deliberation tomorrow.