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Jury needs just 15 minutes to convict man of theft, burglary

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Justice is supposed to be swift, but what a Putnam Superior Court jury did last week amounts to break-neck speed.

In less than 15 minutes -- including the time necessary to pick a foreman -- the jury returned a guilty verdict for David L. Sells Jr., 42, Greencastle, on burglary (a Class C felony) and theft (a Class D felony) charges.

Sells, who was also convicted of being a habitual offender, was found guilty of breaking into the Greencastle Space Place off Tennessee Street and theft for stealing property from one of the storage units.

The early morning Jan. 30, 2012 arrest of Sells and his admitted accomplice, Gregory Cochran, 20, Greencastle, "put an end a rash of burglaries at storage units in and around Greencastle," Judge Charles "Denny" Bridges noted following the verdict.

Cochran this spring accepted a plea agreement with the Putnam County Prosecutor's Office, pleading guilty to a burglary charge in Putnam Circuit Court.

He was sentenced to four years in the Indiana Department of Correction back in April and testified against Sells last week.

Greencastle Police Officer Matt Huffman made the Jan. 30 arrests of Sells and Cochran after spotting their vehicle suspiciously leaving the vicinity of the Space Place storage units at 12:35 a.m.

After making a traffic stop as they turned north onto Bloomington Street, Huffman observed a laptop computer and a battery tester sitting atop trash in the back of Cochran's truck.

"At this point," Huffman said, "I contacted Capt. Charles Inman and requested he search the area of the storage units on Tennessee Street to locate any possible open units or damaged locks."

Inman found a lock on the ground and another that appeared to have been cut. Huffman, meanwhile also discovered bolt cutters behind the passenger's seat of Cochran's truck with "what appeared to be silver shavings between the shears."

Sells was also convicted of being a habitual offender after having accumulated three unrelated felony convictions previously.

On Jan. 6, 1999, he was convicted of sexual misconduct with a minor, while on June 3, 2005, Sells was found guilty of theft. Additionally, he was also convicted of theft in a May 7, 2010 case.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Justin Long prosecuted the case for the state, while Sid Tongret served as Sells' court-appointed attorney.

Sells is due to be sentenced next month in his next Superior Court appearance.



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