An Inglewood man who previously denied burglarizing the La Jolla home of cookbook author Jeanne Jones abruptly pleaded guilty Jan. 15 and will be sentenced Feb. 25.
A maximum 6-year prison term awaits Leon Powell, Jr., 27, said Deputy District Attorney Jayln Wang. Powell pleaded guilty to residential burglary and admitted he broke into the home while it was inhabited.
Jones, 77, was home alone on Oct. 5 when two burglars broke into her bedroom and stole more than $100,000 worth of jewels. Jones identified Powell as one of the burglars on Dec. 12 in the preliminary hearing in San Diego Superior Court.
The guilty plea came as somewhat of a surprise after Powell’s attorney called defense witnesses at the preliminary hearing — a somewhat unusual move. One witness testified Powell was without a car during that time because it was in a repair shop.
Powell’s DNA was found on the disconnected wires to Jones’ video security system, but his lawyer suggested Powell had handled security cables in warehouses at least 17 times because he was employed in that industry.
Wang said her office recently forwarded evidence to the defense that Powell’s cell phone signal was used to ping off cell towers in La Jolla the night of the burglary.
Most of the jewelry taken that night has still not been recovered, except for gems that were dropped by the burglars as they left. This is the third time Jones has been burglarized by jewel thieves. The first case involved the boyfriend of a former caretaker. In 2011, long sentences were handed down to four men involved in a home-invasion robbery.
Jones said she has put up her house for sale. Powell remains free on $250,000 bond.
— Neal Putnam Torrey bank robber to have Jan. 22 hearing
A man suspected of holding up a bank in the Torrey Highlands area faces a Jan. 22 preliminary hearing.
Victor Lamar Moore, 32, was charged with the Jan. 4 robbery of a U.S. Bank that was inside an Albertsons grocery store at 7895 Highland Village Place. He presented a demand note to the teller at 1:40 p.m. and fled.
A San Diego police officer spotted a vehicle that fit the description of the getaway car and pulled it over on Interstate 5. Inside the car with Moore was money obtained from the bank, said a prosecutor.
Moore pleaded not guilty Jan. 8 before San Diego Superior Court Judge David Szumowski, who set bail at $50,000. The prosecutor said police are investigating another bank robbery that may have been committed by Moore. He remains in custody.
— Neal Putnam