Two Kenai residents face charges of burglary, theft and vehicle theft.
Alaska State Troopers detained Aaron Tolton, 35, and Mathew Braswell, 19, after an allegedly stolen Ford F-150 went into the ditch at Mile 77 of the Seward Highway. Troopers observed several items outside the vehicle where it had entered the ditch that matched property stolen in an Oct. 25 burglary, according to court records.
Tolton appeared in custody at the Kenai Courthouse on Tuesday, pleading not guilty to nine charges: two counts of first-degree burglary; five counts of second-degree theft, of a firearm and property; one count of second-degree vehicle theft and one count of first-degree vehicle theft.
All of Tolton's charges are usually class B and C felonies, but Judge Sharon Illsley amended the charges to misdemeanors.
A warrant has been issued for Braswell's arrest, and he has not appeared in court. His charges include two counts of second-degree theft and two counts of first-degree vehicle theft, all of which are class C felonies.
The first of two burglaries allegedly committed by Tolton and Braswell was reported Oct. 4. Stolen items from the Kenai residence included a Honda four-wheeler, a chainsaw, a Remington 12-guage shotgun and a high-end fishing reel, according to court documents.
Troopers estimated the value of the four-wheeler and items stolen at approximately $8,500.
Troopers determined Tolton's home in Kenai was 650 feet away from the first home broken into.
The second burglary had no obvious sign of forced entry. Investigators allege that Tolton knew the homeowner, and he worked for the resident in the past. He had keys to the residence, according to court documents.
Stolen items included a 37-inch flat screen TV, 20 fishing rods, a copy machine, clothes, a tent, sleeping bags, medications and a guitar among other items, according to the affidavit filed by Trooper Investigator Aaron Meyer.
A Ford F-150 was also stolen from the residence, according to court records. Troopers estimated the value of the vehicle at $23,000, and the value of the stolen items at $3,000.
When the vehicle entered the ditch three occupants were inside. The third occupant allegedly had no knowledge that the vehicle was stolen, and Troopers have not charged him.
Several items, which were thrown out of the vehicle when it went into the ditch and rolled onto its side, were "consistent with items stolen from the second burglary, to include fishing and camping equipment," the affidavit said.
During investigation, Tolton allegedly said he knew the vehicle was stolen and intended to tell the owner but failed to do so, and investigators would find his fingerprints on the items in the bed of the truck because he had considered purchasing them from Braswell, according to court documents.
Braswell allegedly stated his understanding was Tolton owned the truck and his fingerprints would be on the items in the bed of the truck because he moved them around. At the time of contact Braswell was arrested on a warrant stemming from an earlier burglary charge, but was later released.
Last year, Braswell was charged with second-degree burglary, tampering with physical evidence, fourth-degree criminal mischief, third-degree theft and violating parole. The case has been reopened.
Troopers checked local pawn shops, finding Tolton allegedly pawned items from the first burglary, including the chainsaw identified by its serial number. Additional items were recovered following a search of Tolton's residence and the stolen vehicle, according to court records.
Tolton's trial is scheduled for the week of Jan. 23, 2012.
Jerzy Shedlock can be reached at email@example.com.