(WKBN) — The conviction of a would-be burglar was vacated Wednesday by the Ohio Supreme Court.
The case surrounds a suspect in Scioto County who walked up to the open garage of a homeowner, who was standing nearby, and took a $500 leaf blower out of the garage, all with a wave and a smile on his face.
Donald Bertram was caught and sentenced to 12 years in prison on a burglary charge.
Bertram fought the conviction arguing that he did not engage in any secret, sly or clandestine activity and he did not force his way into the victim’s garage, therefore he did not burglar the garage.
The Ohio Supreme Court agreed and ordered the Scioto County Common Pleas Court to convict Bertram of a misdemeanor criminal trespassing charge. Sentences for misdemeanor offenses in Ohio are less than a year.
The court’s decision was unanimous. Justice Michael P. Donnelly wrote in the decision that while Bertram engaged in stealth and deception because he calmly and silently walked past the homeowner, giving no indication that he intended to steal anything, the evidence “utterly failed to establish” that Bertram engaged in any “secret, sly, or clandestine conduct,” which must be proven to convict someone of felony burglary.