Man Sent to Trial on Burglary Charge after Being Declared Mentally Incompetent Last Year

By Allison Hodge

SACRAMENTO, CA– Judge Trena H. Burger-Plavan found sufficient evidence in a preliminary hearing here Monday in Sacramento County Superior Court to send defendant Tyler Kruse to trial, although the defense argued Kruse has a history of mental health issues, and was held incompetent to stand trial last year.

It was a dramatic arrest, according to testimony, with Kruse allegedly entering an apartment, while the two roommates huddled in a locked bedroom—and police were forced to break down the front door to get into the building.

Kruse was arrested in April 2020 for allegedly obstructing an officer, harboring drug paraphernalia, and burglarizing an apartment in Sacramento County while two victims were home.

The defendant was ruled incompetent to stand trial in September 2020 following a doctor’s report and was not “restored to competency” until June of this year when the case resumed.

Deputy District Attorney Rainey Jacobson called on three police officers to testify on the events of April 6, 2020, as each of them responded to the victims’ burglary call.

The first to testify was officer Robert Mabunga, who said he and several other officers responded to a call of a burglary in progress in an apartment building in Sacramento county. The two residents of the apartment locked themselves in a bedroom of their second-floor apartment and claimed an intruder was in the kitchen.

Mabunga said that both individuals were in the same room, and threw keys out the window down to the officers so they could open the front door.

When officers attempted to enter and unlock the door, Mabunga testified that he “felt someone on the other side of the door turn the key back from the unlocked to the locked position.” The officers were unable to enter with the key, as the defendant allegedly kept holding the lock.

Officer Mabunga eventually took a running start and used his “whole body weight” to hit the door twice, successfully opening the door on the second attempt.

According to Mabunga’s report, Tyler Kruse was sitting on the couch when they entered the living room area of the apartment. Kruse was eventually apprehended with the help of a K-9 unit.

Officer Mabunga testified that because he injured his wrist while breaching the door, he was not able to personally arrest Kruse.

Assistant Public Defender Quoc-Anh To offered minimal cross-examination of the witness, asking if the officer ever spoke to the defendant personally.

Officer Mabunga clarified that he was physically present for conversations the defendant had with his partner, but did not recall any of the conversations. The officer, thus, did not interact with Kruse on the day of the incident.

DDA Jacobson then called Officer Pavel Stefoglo, who also responded to the burglary call and said the two victims had locked themselves in the bedroom, and heard the defendant “rummaging” through the house in the kitchen area.

Officer Stefoglo said two sets of keys were found on Kruse, both of which Stefoglo later confirmed belonged to the victims and fit the lock on the apartment front door.

The first unnamed victim alleged that he received a call from his second roommate, who claimed that there was a male inside the apartment. The roommate stated that the unidentified male was “…saying things that didn’t make sense,” and that he had no clue who he was.

The second roommate also claimed that he was greeted by Kruse, who introduced himself as “T.K., the new roommate.” The victim did not have any knowledge of new roommates, and proceeded to call the first roommate and lock themselves in a bedroom.

In the cross-examination, the defense had Officer Stefoglo clarify that the first victim could not recall where they misplaced his keys, and was unsure of whether he locked the door to the apartment when the defendant entered.

Stefoglo also verified that neither victim reported any property or money demands, aggression, theft, or threats from the defendant.

Officer Drake Walker took a statement from an employee of the apartment complex, who asserted that they had seen the defendant twice earlier in the day checking car door handles and looking into windows. The employee told the officer that he asked Kruse to leave the premises both times, watched him leave, and did not see him again that day.

The defense offered a short cross-examination, clarifying that Kruse told the employee that he lived in the apartment complex. The employee stated that he did not believe Kruse, and wanted him served with a trespass notice.

No further witnesses were called, but Public Defender To requested to make an argument on behalf of his client, maintaining that on the charge of residential burglary, the suspect must enter with the intent to commit a burglary or felony. To stated, “I don’t believe there has been a showing of any of that.”

The defense argued that there was no evidence offered that Kruse entered the apartment with the intent to steal, and that it is highly probable that the defendant entered the building under some delusion that he actually lived there.

Defense Attorney To also argued his client “may have been going through some type of episode,” during the burglary. The public defender cited mental health issues and drug use as potentially to blame for the incident. PD To asked for a no-holding order on the burglary charge.

Judge Burger-Plavan ruled that there was sufficient evidence to say that the defendant committed first-degree residential burglary, and willfully obstructed officers. Judge Burger-Plavan denied the defense’s request for a no-hold order and ruled that charges be brought to trial.

The case is set to proceed to a jury trial on Aug. 30.

About The Author

Allison is a rising senior at UC Davis, majoring in History and Political Science. She is originally from Clovis, CA, and is pursuing a career in civil rights and/or constitutional law.

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