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Hagerstown man sentenced to seven years for burglary of neighbor's home

Clyde Eugene Gatrell Jr. also burglarized a home where he used to mow the lawn

September 04, 2012|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

A Hagerstown man who waited until his neighbor’s dog died before breaking into her home last year was sentenced Tuesday in Washington County Circuit Court to seven years in state prison for that break-in and another burglary.

Clyde Eugene Gatrell Jr., 39, of 1257 Magnolia Court, pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary and theft of $1,000 to $10,000. Circuit Judge Daniel P. Dwyer sentenced Gatrell to 20 years on each count, suspending all but seven years.

After her house was broken into on Oct. 4, 2011, Robin Baker told Hagerstown police that she suspected a neighbor she knew only as “Clyde,” the application for statement of charges said. Baker told police that Clyde, later identified as Gatrell, was afraid of her dog, the document said.

The dog died a few days before the burglary and she was at home until Oct. 4 when she went to work, the charging document said. Entry had been made through a second-floor window using Baker’s extension ladder, the document said.

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Jewelry, cash and medications worth $1,050 were stolen from the house, the charging document said. A search of Gatrell in the Maryland State Pawn System showed he sold items at area pawnshops Oct. 4 and 10, the documents said. Baker later identified some of the pawned jewelry as hers, the charging document said.

“We trusted him. He lived right next door,” Baker told Dwyer. “For him to wait for the dog to be put to sleep (before breaking in) was worse,” she said of Gatrell.

Gatrell also was charged in an Aug. 18, 2011, burglary at the Longfellow Court home of Willis and Catherine Fox, the charging document said. A television, jewelry and cash were stolen, the document said.

The house was entered through an unlocked rear window while the couple was out of the house, and police found fingerprints, the charging document said. In April 2012, the prints were identified as Gatrell’s, the document said.

Gatrell pawned some of the jewelry in September and October 2011, but it could not be recovered, the charging document said.

Gatrell used to mow the Fox’s lawn, the charging document said.

“I thought he was a nice person,” Catherine Fox told Dwyer.

In addition to the lost belongings, she said their homeowners’ insurance increased.

Gatrell became addicted to painkillers after back surgery several years ago and stole to support his habit, Assistant Public Defender Kathleen McClernan told Dwyer.

“I betrayed their trust,” Gatrell told the judge.

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