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The second-day story, with your help. Call Gazette reporter Adam Belz at (319) 398-8273 or e-mail him: adam.belz@gazcomm.com

Woman terrified after man’s second criminal trespass charge on her property

I met a woman on Friday who is scared of her neighbor. Since he moved in next door in December, she says he has tried to get into her house at least three times.

The problem is she can’t get a restraining order because she has no relationship with him. And police have charged him with criminal trespass, a simple misdemeanor, twice, in addition to several public intoxication charges.

I’m leaving out names for now, but I wonder if any other woman has had this problem, where she feels threatened by a man she doesn’t know personally, but has no recourse for separating herself from him in any significant, lasting way.

According to police:

In January, a little after 11 p.m., the woman heard someone knocking on the door and jiggling the door handle. (She has two small children.) Police came, charged the neighbor with public intoxication, and issued him a warning to stay off her property.

Then in March, she heard someone knocking on the door after 12:30 a.m. She thought it was her neighbor, and called police. When they arrived, he was asleep on her front porch. He was arrested for public intox and charged with criminal trespass as well because he had been warned in January to stay off her property.

In early May, a little after 4 p.m., she called police and told them her neighbor had tried to walk into her home. When police arrived, the neighbor was in a verbal argument with the woman’s landlord. He was charged again with criminal trespass. Police went back out there four hours later and looked to see if the lock on the screen door was actually broken, because she said he had broken it to get in. It was broken.

The man has already pled guilty to criminal trespass, criminal mischief for the lock and interference with official acts for the May incident. He wasn’t charged with anything more than criminal mischief because in order to charge someone with burglary, police have to prove intent to steal something or hurt somebody.

The March incident is going to trial, and yesterday, after I talked to the county attorney’s office (could be coincidence) the prosecutor filed a notice stating intent to seek jail time on the first criminal trespass charge.

One of the only ways for prosecutors to raise the stakes on this stuff is to charge the man with stalking, which requires that he has established a “course of conduct … that would cause a reasonable person to fear bodily injury.”

It requires two or more instances. So there are already two instances, but no stalking charge.

As a commenter pointed out on http://www.gazetteonline.com, here’s what one lady did to solve a more serious problem.

Let me know if you have any thoughts on this. A comment would be good, so would an e-mail: adam.belz@gazcomm.com

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Filed under: Courts, Public Safety, , , , , , ,

2 Responses

  1. a says:

    Sounds like it’s time for this lady to get a shotgun also. The police are only able to file reports, they can’t be everywhere, and they have no legal obligation to protect you (many court cases have ruled this). We need to take responsibility for our own safety and protection. For a minimal fee plus some class and shooting range time, you can even obtain a permit to carry a defensive weapon with you, as long as you don’t go into a government-sanctioned “criminal protection zone” such as a school or federal building.

  2. Billy mays says:

    It’s called a 12 gauge. Load it up with #8 shot if she wants him to remember WHY you don’t break in people’s houses repeatedly, or single ought buck to take care of the problem forever.

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