(WKBN) – A suspect who is trying to get out of his burglary conviction is arguing that he didn’t burgle a garage where he took a leaf blower. He walked up, smiled at the owner and walked away with the equipment — no burglary, he said.
The case stems from a 2020 theft out of Scioto County where a man who was landscaping his yard noticed a car pull up to his driveway. It was then that Donald Bertram got out of his car, smiled at the man and went inside the open garage and took a new leaf blower and walked back to his car.
The homeowner told Bertram to stop and put the leaf blower down, but Bertram drove away.
Bertram was subsequently charged with burglary. He admitted to trespassing and that he took the leaf blower but said he was not a burglar.
Bertram argued that he couldn’t be a burglar because according to Ohio law, you have to enter a structure by force, stealth or deception, and Bertram said he did none of those things.
Bertram was found guilty of burglary anyway and sentenced to eight to 12 years in prison.
He appealed the decision to the Fourth District Court of Appeals which ruled that his “sly behavior” did constitute burglary.
Now the case has been sent to the Ohio Supreme Court which will hear oral arguments next week and will consider if Bertram’s action constitutes burglary — even though he flashed a friendly smile while doing it.