MASSENA - A local justice ruled enough evidence wasnt presented during a preliminary hearing this week in Massena Town Court to sustain felony burglary charges against an Ogdensburg man charged with breaking into a vacant home and stealing jewelry belonging to an elderly woman now residing in a nursing home.
Massena Town Justice James M. Crandall ruled the evidence presented at the trial wasnt enough to hold a second-degree burglary count against Lashawn J. Whitfield, 40, of 834 Ford St., Ogdensburg, over for grand jury. The court ruled prosecutors had failed to provide evidence necessary to meet the legal requirements necessary to corroborate a statement made by his alleged co-defendant, Ashley E. Pike, 27, of 306 Hasbrouck St., Ogdensburg.
Pike, who had admitted her role in the burglary in a statement to state police, had her case handed up to superior court for possible grand jury action. She was released from the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility and placed under the supervision of the probation department.
Whitfield was also released from jail. Prosecutors will have the option of presenting the case against him to a St. Lawrence County grand jury.
Massena-based state police had charged Whitfieldand Pikewith second-degree burglary on Jan. 18 stemming from a complaint made to troopers at 6:05 p.m. Jan. 12 from the town of Massena. They had been held at the county jail since their arrest.
Pike, in her statement to police, said she and Whitfield had been visiting her sister on the Stanton Road on the day of the burglary. She said during their conversation her sister noted her next door neighbor had moved into the nursing home a couple months earlier and wondered aloud whether there was anything valuable in the house.
She said a short time later she joined Whitfield when he went to the neighbors residence, grabbing a pillow and a hammer from her sisters residence. She said Whitfield made the porch light inoperable, broke the glass on a door and entered the residence. She said he took a small black jewelry box from the home and sold some of the burglary proceeds, including a white gold plain band ring and a yellow gold opal ring, to Peets Jewelers for $123. Those two rings were recovered from the jewelry store.
The elderly Stanton Road womans told troopers he had been checking on his mothers house while she was in the nursing home. He said he had checked the house on Jan. 11 and everything was fine, but he noticed problems when he arrived at his mothers home the next day.
He said he first noticed the front motion light did not turn on and when he investigated discovered it had been unscrewed. I then walked into the house and went to the fridge and noticed that items were on the floor. It appeared that someone had ransacked the house. All the dresser drawers were open, and a jewelry box was on the floor and open, the womans son noted in his statement to police.
It also appeared that someone tipped over her mattress to look underneath it, he said, adding he had also discovered the broken front door window as well as broken glass on the floor.
State police Investigator Andrew Gayeskie was the sole witness called to testify by the St. Lawrence County District Attorneys Office.
Pike was represented by attorney Mary Rain. Whitfield was represented by St. Lawrence County Assistant Public Defender Robert Ballan.