After his accomplice pleaded guilty on Monday, a Sylvan Lake man decided he’d rather also plead guilty to a string of property crimes than face a two-week jury trial.
Jaret Szoke, 36, was to have started an eight-day Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench judge and jury trial on Tuesday after jury selection wrapped up on Monday afternoon.
Just before the trial was to have started, with 12 jurors and the two alternates waiting in the wings, he switched his plea, admitting guilt before Justice Ken Nielsen to two 2013 break and enters to Red Deer businesses.
His accomplice in at least one of the crimes, Christopher Davis, 36, of Red Deer pleaded guilty to two counts of break and enter on Monday. He received a two-and-a-half-year sentence.
During the evening of Feb. 3, 2013, he was one of two men who attempted to steal an ATM from the Independent Gas Bar in Clearview Market Square. Crown Prosecutor Jason Snider said Szoke and an accomplice broke open the door, damaging the lock. They then tried to steal the ATM, Snider said they tied a rope around the machine and attached it to their car. They tried to pull the ATM out of the store, but the rope broke and they were unsuccessful. They fled the scene and stole nothing, but did significant damage to the store.
Then on Feb. 17, 2013, he and Davis broke into the Petrolite in Edgar Industrial Park. Snider said they opened a door using a pry-bar, opened an ATM and stole about $1,500. Surveillance video from the site showed they also had a compressor, a generator and a police scanner when they stole from the ATM at the Petrolite.
Red Deer RCMP became aware of Szoke and Davis when property they stole started being sold. On Feb. 27, 2013, police observed two people leaving a residence in Sylvan Lake and loading a truck with tools. Police pursued and pulled the vehicle over, arresting Davis and Szoke.
A search warrant was executed on the residence and police found pry-bars in Szoke’s room. Using surveillance footage from both the gas bar and Petrolite, police matched clothing found at the residence with clothing they found in Szoke’s room.
Jury members were kept out of the courtroom as Szoke pleaded guilty to the two break and enter charges, as well as possession of break-in tools and breach of probation. After the pleas were entered, the jurors were brought in and dismissed.
Sentencing for Szoke is scheduled for Wednesday morning in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench.