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Transient sentenced to year in Turning Point

June 17, 2002|By MARIO RENTERÍA, Staff Writer

A 41-year-old transient was sentenced to a year in Turning Point, a Christian-based program for men with "life-controlling" problems, after he pleaded guilty to burglary when he stole a beer from El Centro Liquor.

Douglas Dante Riddell was facing three years in prison for the burglary but Superior Court Judge Donald Donnelly sentenced him to the program, said Imperial County Deputy District Attorney Steve Honse.

Riddell also was arrested for attempting to steal a train and a beer delivery truck the same day as the beer theft. Those charges were dropped.

Riddell was arrested May 10 in the 1400 block of Holt Avenue after he allegedly tried to swipe a Budweiser delivery truck and a railroad engine on the tracks near Main Street. He then ended his theft spree with the beer.

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Honse said he and Riddell's court-appointed attorney, Bill Lehman, worked on a plea deal. Honse agreed to drop two charges of attempted vehicle theft, one being grand theft auto, if Riddell would plead guilty to burglary.

Honse said it would have been difficult to show Riddell tried to steal the train anyway. He said to convict someone of grand theft auto, prosecutors have to prove the theft would have caused a loss to the owner.

In the case of the train, Honse said Lehman made a good argument, saying Riddell couldn't steal the train because he had nowhere to hide it.

"It's not as if he could hide it in his garage," said Honse.

Honse said it was obvious Riddell was not a sophisticated criminal but more of person with a drinking problem.

He also said Riddell stated he doesn't remember committing the criminal acts. He stated he had blacked out that day from heavy alcohol use and could have committed the acts.

>> Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3441.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie contributed to this story.

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