Three-month sentence for burglar shot by worker

EVERETT — A man who was shot in the leg after breaking into an Everett real estate office in August was sentenced Wednesday to three months in jail.

Joel Berry, 30, pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary for crawling through a busted-out window at Robinett &Associates on Colby Avenue. Berry was shot in the upper thigh by employee armed with a .22 caliber handgun.

The man, 76, told police he had taken to packing a gun after a couple of break-ins at the business.

Berry, who was homeless at the time, told police that he’d entered through a boarded-up window. When he noticed the computers, he stayed to view online pornography.

The employee found Berry inside, held him at gunpoint and called 911.

Berry attempted to climb out the window. The worker told police Berry threw a computer monitor at him. He said that’s when he fired once at the stranger.

Berry told police he threw the computer at the man after he’d been shot in an effort to escape.

Police found Berry in a back yard a short distance away.

Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Tammy Bayard on Wednesday recommended a three-month jail stay, the maximum under the state sentencing guidelines. Berry didn’t have any prior felony criminal history.

Bayard said Berry’s actions during the confrontation with the worker were particularly egregious, placing the man in fear for his safety.

Defense attorney Donald Wackerman told the judge that Berry has wanted to take responsibility for breaking into the building from the onset. He questioned, however, what took place inside the office and what led up to his client being fired upon.

“I think what’s egregious about the circumstances is that Mr. Berry got shot,” Wackerman said.

He told the judge that Berry already has served 55 days in jail and argued for his client’s release.

Wackerman said since being jailed, Berry has been stabilized on medications. He has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. Wackerman added that a release plan for Berry has been put in place through jail transitions services and the social worker employed by the Snohomish County Public Defender’s Association.

Superior Court Judge Ellen Fair sided with the deputy prosecutor. She pointed out that while Berry didn’t have any other felony convictions, he had a fairly lengthy record of misdemeanors.

“This was not your typical burglary case,” Fair said. “From the court’s perspective, it’s fortunate that no one was killed or more seriously hurt.”

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

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