On July 3, 2011 a resident of Cambridge Ave in Ft. Mitchell came home early from a family vacation to tend to a sick relative. She was alarmed to find the family's safe on the floor of the garage instead of its installed location on the upper floor of the residence. Not knowing if a burglar was still in the house, the woman wisely backed out and called police. Ft. Mitchell Police Officers Shane Best, Erica Schrand, and Bill Zerhusen responded to the call. The officers determined the burglar was long gone but found the master bedroom and closets ransacked. Entry was made by breaking glass in a side door to gain access to the lock. The burglar had gone thru all the bedroom drawers and closets. Many valuables were disturbed but left behind, however, two heirloom quality watches were missing.
As Ft. Mitchell Police processed the crime scene, they noticed the house had a security system with video cameras. The homeowners had not armed the system before leaving because of recent malfunctions with the fire alarm. Captured on the video cameras was a tall, black male that appeared to be some sort of salesman but was seen walking all around the house over the course of almost 2 hours, two days prior on July 1, 2011. Although the broken door is not visible on camera, the man can be seen leaving the front door, then returning into the house twenty minutes later thru the same front door.
Unbeknown to Ft. Mitchell Police, the Ft. Thomas Police were investigating an attempted burglary in their city that occurred July 1, 2011. Their suspect also made entry thru a rear door of a home that appeared unoccupied but the homeowner was actually upstairs. When confronted by the homeowner, the tall, black man claimed to be a salesman. He was carrying a case with papers and wearing a name tag. When the owner went to call police, the man hurried to his car parked on the street. An alert neighbor saw the man, thought him suspicious, and recorded his license plate. Upon later learning of the break-in attempt, she provided the license plate number to Ft. Thomas Police.
The car was registered to a man in Edgewood, KY. Ft. Thomas Police Detectives Brad Adams and Brent Moening went looking for the owner at his home. Upon receiving no answer, the detectives stopped in at Adams' former employer, the Ft. Mitchell Police, to see if anyone wanted to get lunch. To Adams surprise, Ft. Mitchell Detective Tim Berwanger had a still photo from the video cameras up on his computer and the man in the video matched the description of his suspect perfectly. Upon inquiring about the video, the detectives quickly learned the two departments were hunting the same suspect.
Detectives tracked down the car owner who said the car was driven by his daughter who lives in Newport. They also learned the daughter was living with a man named Willie Williams, who fit the description of the burglar. Detectives also learned Williams was, in fact, employed as a salesman for the company he claimed to represent in Ft. Thomas, however, company officials informed them their salesmen should never be going door to door in a residential neighborhood and that Williams was not at work on the day of the burglaries. When the detectives found Williams in Newport, they also located his clothes seen in the video and his company ID he was wearing. Williams was arrested and taken in for questioning. After first claiming to be at work on the day of the burglary, Williams eventually admitted that he was, in fact, the man seen in the video and that he also was the man confronted by the homeowner in Ft. Thomas. But Williams emphatically denied both burglaries.
Williams was indicted for 2nd Degree Burglary by the Kenton County Grand Jury in September, 2011. After two continuances at the defense's request, the case was called for trial on March 28, 2012 before Kenton Circuit Judge Patricia Summe. Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders and Special Asst. Commonwealth's Attorney Josh McIntosh called eight witnesses for the prosecution, including Ft. Mitchell and Ft. Thomas Police and the homeowners from the respective cities as well. In addition, two witnesses from the Defendant's now-former employer testified about his absence from work and violation of company policy against residential solicitations. The defense called no witnesses and put on no proof.
After approximately three hours of deliberation over lunch, the jury returned a verdict finding Williams guilty of 2nd Degree Burglary. After additional proof about a prior burglary conviction out of Georgia, the jury also convicted Williams of being a Persistent Felony Offender 2nd Degree. The jury also recommended that Williams serve 15 years in prison. Formal final sentencing was set for May 8, 2012. To read more about the case, click here.
*Special Asst. Commonwealth's Attorney Josh McIntosh is a 3rd year law student at Salmon P. Chase College of Law, practicing on a "limited license" under the supervision of the Commonwealth's Attorney. Josh joins the ranks of over a dozen law student externs who have won felony jury verdicts of guilty while practicing law with the Commonwealth's Attorney Office in Kenton County.