By Jeanne LeFlore
Two more people have been charged in a string of burglaries tied to an alleged burglar who pocket-dialed a call to 911 during an alleged theft.
Cody Garrison, 28, and Dominque Burnett, 19, both of McAlester, pleaded not guilty in Pittsburg County District Court on Thursday. Garrison was charged with three counts of second-degree burglary, and he was charged with Burnett with one count of first-degree burglary of an occupied home.
The charges came after police say Garrison pocket-dialed 911 while allegedly burglarizing a McAlester home on July 12. Garrison was taken into custody early Wednesday morning, according to a court affidavit.
He is suspected in a string of burglaries in the McAlester area, which include homes burglarized while the owners were at the funerals of their spouses.
According to an affidavit, Burnett said she is Garrison’s girlfriend and allegedly drove Garrison to different homes in the McAlester area and waited outside while he burglarized the properties.
Pittsburg County Sheriff Joel Kerns said the burglaries had been going on since the end of June with and several more on the July 4th weekend. “We have at least 10 and probably a lot more,” Kerns said.
The charges filed Thursday allege Garrison burglarized a home on Peaceable Road on July 12, taking a camera, jewelry, power tools, a revolver and other items; a home on West Washington Avenue in McAlester between June 10 and 22; and a home on East Park Avenue in McAlester on July 4, entering through a bedroom window.
The first-degree burglary charge alleges Garrison and Burnett broken into a home on North Main Street in McAlester on Tuesday while the resident was home.
Kerns said Garrison may have been a ring-leader of a group of people involved in the alleged burglaries.
On July 12, Payton Brewer, 23, of McAlester, was charged in Pittsburg County District Court with felony counts of second-degree burglary and knowingly concealing stolen property. His arrest and charge came after authorities received a 911 call from a phone while he and Garrison were allegedly burglarizing the home on Peaceable Road.
“There was a 911 call made by an individual who was breaking into a residence on Peaceable Road, just south of McAlester,” said Pittsburg County Undersheriff Richard Bedford. “We believe the 911 call was made accidentally by pocket dialing. The two burglars were discussing what they were taking from the house.”
Specifically, Bedford said the Garrison and Brewer were talking about the jewelry they were allegedly stealing from the home while 911 dispatchers listened into the conversation.
Bedford said his men arrived at the home, Garrison and Brewer had allegedly already left the scene.
“We followed their trail,” Bedford said, “to the Gold & Silver Exchange on South Main Street.” Bedford said Brewer was inside the Exchange “with jewelry we believe came from the residence. We recovered quite a bit of property — including jewelry, a gun and tools.”
Brewer was arrested but Garrison allegedly fled the scene, according to Bedford.
Garrison allegedly continued to burglarize homes until he was arrested early Wednesday morning.
Kerns said the group targeted many homes in the McAlester area, some owned by people who had recently lost a loved one.
“Retired Sheriff’s Deputy Louis Perry was at his wife’s funeral when his house was burglarized in McAlester,” Kerns said, referring to the burglary on West Washington Avenue. “His wife had been in law enforcement too and their retired badges were stolen.”
Another woman in McAlester had her home burglarized on the night of her husband’s funeral.
Dr. James Utterback, president of Seminole State College, is the son of Jim and Jimmie Ann Utterback. Jim Utterback’s funeral was Monday morning and his widow, Jimmie Ann, stayed home alone for the first time after her husband’s death on the night her house was burglarized, James Utterback said.
“They’d been married for 60 years,” he said. “And this was the first night she stayed alone in her home without him there.”
Utterback said while his mother slept, her home was burglarized.
“She woke up the next day and found her house had been robbed,” James Utterback said. “Over $700 had been stolen out of her purse and medicine was taken.”
James Utterback said targeting someone who has lost a loved one is “evil.”
Meanwhile, Kerns said his office has recovered several thousand dollars worth of belongings during the investigation, and he said he hopes to recover more.
Garrison is being held at the Pittsburg County jail in lieu of a $600,000 bond and faces up to 20 years in prison.
Burnett was released after posting a $10,000 bond. If convicted she faces up to 20 years in prison.
Brewer is facing up to 12 years.
All three are due back in court July 26 at 9 a.m.
Contact Jeanne LeFlore at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact Rachel Petersen at email@example.com.