Staubitz convicted on burglary charges

April 13, 1994|By Sheridan Lyons and Glenn Small | Sheridan Lyons and Glenn Small,Sun Staff Writers

John M. Staubitz Jr., the former state health official who served time for skimming money from the Maryland State Games, was convicted last night by a Baltimore County Circuit Court jury on charges of housebreaking and theft.

Staubitz, 45, of the 6900 block of Pinecrest Road in Catonsville, has been jailed since his arrest in September in a series of break-ins that month in northern Baltimore County.

In addition to the five counts of felony breaking and entering and five counts of grand theft on which he was convicted, the former deputy state health secretary is awaiting trial in similar cases in Carroll and Howard counties.

Staubitz served part of a 10-month sentence for his 1992 conviction of skimming thousands of dollars from the state games, an amateur athletic competition. He chose to take the stand in his own defense in the closing hours of the break-in case.

He testified late into Monday and returned to the stand for two hours yesterday, giving detailed alibis for the four days when the break-ins occurred.

On Monday, Staubitz chuckled as he told the jury how angry his wife was in September when he told her he had let co-defendant Robert Ernest Emmons Jr. borrow their van. He said Emmons was chronically late returning the van.

Staubitz's van was identified as the vehicle in which stolen articles were hauled.

"I'm going to suggest to you that the defendant is lying to you today," Assistant State's Attorney A. Dean Stocksdale told the jurors in his closing argument. "His story was too pat."

During the trial, defense attorney Frank Coleman called witnesses who provided alibis for some of the periods during which Staubitz was alleged to have conducted the break-ins, including a sister-in-law and a man for whom he did some work.

CPatrick J. Yox, 20, a fellow inmate at the Carroll County Detention Center, testified Monday that Emmons said "he had put stuff over at John's house, and John didn't know about the burglaries. Now I hear he's trying to turn around and testify against John."

Mr. Stocksdale told the jurors that alibi witnesses were either lying for Staubitz, or simply mistaken. But the prosecutor conceded, "If you believe all their [alibi] witnesses, hey, don't even leave this box. Just find him not guilty.

"Folks," he said, "this is an issue of credibility."

Testimony in the case began last April 6. Among the witnesses last week was Emmons, 29, formerly of Baltimore, who testified for the prosecution that Staubitz joined him in a series of burglaries "because he needed some excitement."

Emmons, a longtime thief who had befriended Staubitz in prison, pleaded guilty to two of the break-ins in January and got a 20-year sentence. He has a record of theft, forgery and passing bad checks, dating to 1983, he said.

Emmons testified that he and Staubitz broke into five homes on Upper Beckleysville Road, Cotter Road, Keeney Mill Road and Wesley Chapel Road between Sept. 10 and Sept. 22, stealing silver, guns, jewelry and other items.

Judge J. William Hinkel instructed the jury of eight women and four men late yesterday afternoon, and the panel began its deliberations at 6:35 p.m. The verdicts -- guilty on all counts -- were returned nearly four hours later.

Sentencing was set for June.

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