A burglary suspect’s argument that his break-in of a Rotterdam home wasn’t violent because no one was home was rejected at his sentencing Monday.
Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago turned back the argument, telling the defendant “these are intrusive crimes, these are very intrusive crimes.”
Defendant Shairon T. McLaurin made the arguments Monday through his attorney Steve Kouray.
Through Kouray, he argued that the statute making second-degree burglary — the burglary of a home — violent wasn’t consistent with other parts of the statute.
Kouray called it a denial of due process and irrational. In McLaurin’s case, there was no proof of violence, no weapons used, no injuries.
McLaurin, 25, of Union Street, Schenectady, and his 21-year-old nephew Bushard D. Garland, of Southern Boulevard, Albany, were charged in June, accused of breaking into an unoccupied Augustine Avenue home through the front window and making off with a video game system, cash and some jewelry.
Neighbors alerted police as the burglary was in progress. The suspects allegedly knocked first, then broke in.
Police arrived, chased the suspects and arrested them.
Both McLaurin and Garland later pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary. Garland was earlier sentenced to five years in state prison.
McLaurin’s deal called for as much as seven to eight years. He has a prior second-degree burglary conviction out of the Bronx.
Both convictions are considered violent offenses, which carry longer prison sentences than non-violent offenses.
Also, violent offenders can do harder time, with more restrictions in state prison, Healy said later.
If McLaurin is convicted of a third violent offense, he could face up to life in state prison.
Countering the defense in court, Healy argued the Legislature was far from arbitrary in making a home burglary a violent offense while making a business burglary a non-violent offense.
He called a home “an extension of a person’s self.”
“An invasion of a person’s home is a violent offense, whether a person is home or not,” Healy said.
Drago sided with Healy, and sentenced McLaurin to the maximum allowed under the plea bargain, eight years.
The judge said she was concerned by McLaurin’s apparent attitude that home burglaries shouldn’t be considered violent.
“In some ways that sends the message to the court that you’re minimizing your conduct here, despite what society and the Legislature is telling you.
“These are intrusive crimes,” she told him, “these are very intrusive.”