A Parsons man ordered to stand trial nearly two years ago for burglary finally received a trial date.
Stephen V. Yanez, born in 1985, is charged in Labette County District Court with nonresidential burglary and criminal damage, both lower-level felonies. He faces charges in two other cases filed since then, one alleging felony drug possession and other counts and the other alleging misdemeanor charges and traffic infractions.
The break-in occurred Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 19 and 20, 2015, at 201 S. Central. Crawford County District Judge Lori A. Bolton Fleming is presiding over the case and Robert Myers is special prosecutor. J. Gordon Gregory is representing Yanez.
Yanez has denied his involvement in the burglary and provided a DNA sample to a sheriff’s detective investigating in 2015.
The preliminary hearing took place in July 2019, after which Yanez was ordered to stand trial. The case against Yanez was filed in 2018, two years after investigators received the DNA report from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation lab that tied Yanez or males in his family to DNA discovered at the crime scene.
Gregory attacked that evidence, taken from an empty can of Mountain Dew, from its introduction at the 2019 hearing.
A former janitor for the building found the empty can in the trash in the women’s bathroom of the jury room and gave it to the sheriff at the time. The burglar entered the building through a west window in a court reporter’s office. A brick used to break the glass was found in the office, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in the case.
The burglar damaged drawers, an antique desk, file cabinets, a monitor and other property. He or she also broke into locked offices, taking $35 from the court clerk’s office. A laptop computer in the sheriff’s office by the main building entrance was broken in pieces. A set of handcuffs in that office were missing. A break room for the county attorney’s office was broken into as well.
A security video showed the burglar, but nothing to identify him or her. The burglar appeared to be about 5-foot, 8-inches tall based on markings on a doorway when he or she left. He or she was bow-legged.
The lab report came back Jan. 22, 2016, and said the DNA found on the Mountain Dew can was consistent with the DNA Yanez provided and he and his male relatives could not be excluded as possible contributors. Yanez’s father and brother had alibis for the time of the burglary.
On Thursday, Yanez pleaded not guilty to charges in all three cases. Gregory asked for the trial to be set out quite a ways to give him time to employ an expert to review DNA evidence.
Labette County has a plan in place and approved by the state to hold jury trials again after trials were shut down because of the pandemic.
Yanez will return to court Aug. 10 for a pretrial hearing in the burglary and drug possession cases. A pretrial hearing in the misdemeanor case will be Oct. 26.
His jury trial in the burglary case will run Sept. 27 to Oct. 1. His jury trial in the drug case will run Oct. 12-14. His misdemeanor jury trial (six jurors) will be Nov. 16 and 17.