Jeanne Jones IDs suspect in home robbery
by Neal Putnam
Dec 20, 2013 | 1878 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A judge on Dec. 16 ordered an Inglewood man to stand trial for burglarizing the La Jolla home of cookbook author Jeanne Jones during which more than $200,000 in jewelry was taken.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Michael Smyth cited Jones’ identification of the suspect and DNA evidence as reasons to warrant a trial for Leon Powell III, 27. Powell’s DNA was found on disconnected cables to Jones’ video-surveillance security system that was taken during the theft.

Jones, 77, identified Powell during the preliminary hearing as one of two men who broke into her house Oct. 4 while she was asleep. She testified she called 911 on her cell phone, but one burglar grabbed the phone out of her hands. She called police after the men heard an alarm and left.

“I was terribly frightened. I was scared to death,” said Jones, adding that her husband was out of town that night and she was alone.

Because her locked bedroom door was partly made of steel, the burglars used a crowbar and other devices to tear into a nearby wall to get inside. Her closet safe containing jewelry had been left open and the men grabbed several items, dropping some on the way out.

This case marks the third time Jones’ home has been burglarized by jewel thieves and Jones testified she has put up her house for sale. Four people are serving long prison terms for a 2011 incident. A former housekeeper’s boyfriend was convicted in an earlier theft.

Jones’ assistant, Vicky Holly, testified the total loss came to nearly $244,000. Jones said a Rolex watch, several rings, broaches, bracelets, earrings and cuff links were taken. Also taken was a heavy locked safe, which she said contained nothing.

Powell was ordered to stand trial for grand theft, burglary and attempting to dissuade Jones from reporting a crime by allegedly grabbing her cell phone. He remains free on $250,000 bond and a trial date will be set Jan. 15.

Powell has pleaded not guilty and has no previous association with Jones. None of the jewelry was recovered after his Oct. 23 arrest.

After she had initially testified, Jones noticed Powell walking around in the court hallway and asked to be recalled as a witness, saying she recognized the way he was walking.

“Body language says more to me. I was a dancer for years,” said Jones, who said she was “more certain” now that Powell was one of the burglars.

Powell’s lawyer, James Pokorny, introduced Powell’s employer in Los Angeles who testified Powell worked for his camera-security installation company for the last 7 to 8 years. Kevin Garvin testified he sent Powell to buy security installation cables at warehouses at least 17 to 18 times.

Pokorny argued that Powell’s DNA was found on Jones’ security systems because his job required him to touch and handle cable wires. A DNA expert testified there was no way to tell how long Powell’s DNA had been on the disconnected cables at Jones’ house.

Smyth said the explanation was interesting, but Pokorny presented no evidence that Jones’ security-system firm, ADT, used any cables that came from L.A. warehouses. Pokorny said ADT could not confirm to him where it purchased its cables.

Pokorny also presented an alibi witness, Robert Hall, who said he had been working on Powell’s car at a Southgate firm and was not finished with it until Oct. 5. Pokorny argued that Powell is “not Superman” and could not have been in La Jolla the day before.

Deputy District Attorney Jalyn Wang argued that Powell “knew where to go” in Jones’ house to steal the security system because he works in that industry. She said Powell took off his gloves to dismantle and take the video recorder and left his DNA there.
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