Jury: Baxter guilty

LIHU‘E — A jury found a Lihu‘e man guilty of burglary and theft charges Tuesday in Fifth Circuit Court.

In a two-day trial before Judge Kathleen Watanabe the jury convicted Russel L. Baxter on a reduced charge of second-degree burglary and the original charge of third-degree theft.

State Public Defender Christian Enright represented Baxter, 29, of Lihu‘e, who claimed he did not steal but borrowed an air compressor without asking last May 17. He allegedly entered the attached garage or carport of an Anahola couple he knew and took the item from a storage bin.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John Murphy presented the state’s case, bringing in three witnesses to detail the circumstances of the incident to how the item was not carelessly borrowed but taken.

One report in court noted that Baxter told the police that he should have asked first when he was arrested for the offense on June 6. He was indicted on Aug. 25.

Sentencing is set for Jan. 25 in Courtroom 6 before Watanabe.

First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jake Delaplane said Baxter has a prior class-C felony conviction for second-degree theft, so he will be facing a mandatory minimum of 20 months in prison.

The prior theft conviction stemmed from an October 2006 incident in which Baxter made a fraudulent deposit of $500 into an ATM machine at the Kapa‘a Branch of the Kaua‘i Community Federal Credit Union and then immediately withdrew the funds.

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