Judge postpones sentencing for two burglary suspects | TheUnion.com

Judge postpones sentencing for two burglary suspects

The sentencing has been postponed for two men who pleaded no contest to two counts of first-degree residential burglary and one count of possessing stolen property after having been charged with seven counts each.

The plea agreement carried a stipulated prison sentence of four years and eight months.

Stephen Madonna and Brent R.D. Wilkins, both 20, were arrested in December 2012 after the red Nissan sedan they were driving was reported as suspicious by a caller in the area of Casa Loma Drive and East Home Place, southeast of Grass Valley.

Nevada County sheriff’s deputies approached the vehicle and allegedly spotted a handgun safe in the back seat that matched the description of one that had been stolen from a home on the 14000 block of Liquidambar Lane. Deputies subsequently obtained a search warrant for their residence, where a stockpile of stolen property allegedly was recovered that linked the men to a number of burglaries.

Among the recovered items at the residence were several bags of jewelry, electronics, another safe, power tools and weapons, including rifles and one pistol from the vehicle.

Ten burglaries Madonna and Wilkins were reportedly tied to occurred during the day at unoccupied homes around Grass Valley and in the Alta Sierra area around Dog Bar Road.

Investigators believe the pair would approach a cased residence and knock on the door.

If someone answered, they would ask directions or act as though they were at the wrong house. If no one was home, doors were kicked in.

The two men were set to be sentenced in Nevada County Superior Court on Sept. 23, and statements from their victims were read at that hearing.

But Judge Tom Anderson referred both defendants to the California Department of Corrections for a 90-day diagnosis to determine whether he would accept the plea agreement, said Deputy Public Defender Kyra Patterson.

No new hearing date has been set.

Pope held on felony count in dog shooting case

A Foresthill man accused of beating his dog, shooting it in the face, tying it to a tree and leaving it to die was held to answer on one count of felony animal cruelty in Placer County Superior Court Sept. 30.

Mark Steven Pope, aka “Redneck” Pope, was charged with animal cruelty in the case that drew substantial local attention after the small terrier mix, renamed Frankie, was rehabilitated by Scooter’s Pals’ volunteers.

Frankie was found by a group of campers Sept. 14, 2012, near Foresthill after they heard him whimpering for two days.

In addition to having been beaten, the dog had been shot in the face multiple times with a pellet gun. His jaw was broken with parts of the bone missing, and the toes on one foot were broken.

The dog was taken to a veterinarian in the Bay Area and traced to Scooter’s Pals, a Nevada County “last chance” rescue organization that had microchipped Frankie about six months before adopting him out.

Wallace said Pope adopted the dog, named Butch at the time, from her organization about eight months before the shooting.

Pope reportedly left a message with Scooter’s Pals that he had to put the dog down, that it had a stroke and that he buried it.

It wasn’t until the vet in Pinole called about a badly abused dog and Wallace checked the chip number that she realized the vet was calling about Butch.

Pope has been arraigned and is next set to be in court Oct. 17 for a trial-setting conference.

To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email lkellar@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.

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