Donald Lee Gerald of Bismarck pleaded not guilty to 15 felony charges including burglary, surreptitious intrusion and criminal trespass in district court Monday morning.
The charges follow investigations of a string of reported break-ins across Bismarck. A criminal complaint lists dates for the crimes ranging from July 1 to Nov. 8 last year.
Gerald is accused of breaking into seven homes, of attempting to break in to two homes, of looking into windows at five homes and of trespassing in one home. The complaint does not list the locations of the homes involved.
Gerald entered a not guilty plea to another Class C felony criminal trespass charge in December. In that instance, Bismarck Police Detective Paul Olson testified that he and Sgt. Gary Malo had been investigating numerous break-ins to homes in northwest Bismarck, including an Oct. 14 break-in at a home on the 700 block of Brunswick Drive in which the homeowner saw a man standing in his foyer without shoes. The man fled when he saw the homeowner, but a pair of white tennis shoes was left outside the house, Olson said.
Olson requested North Dakota Parole and Probation provide GPS tracking data from sex offenders to the police department so detectives could determine if any of the offenders had been in the areas of the break-ins. Gerald is a high-risk sex offender, required to register his status for the remainder of his life, after convictions for surreptitious intrusion in Grand Forks County in 2003.
Gerald’s GPS data indicated Gerald was at the home on the 700 block of Brunswick at the time of the break-in on Oct. 14, Olson said. He questioned Gerald, who said he was in the area, walking on the sidewalk, looking at “deer and pretty houses.”
Olson submitted one of the tennis shoes found outside the home to the state crime laboratory for DNA analysis. DNA on the shoe matched that of Gerald.
On Monday, Gerald waived his preliminary hearing and moved straight to an arraignment. He was charged with seven counts of Class C felony burglary and two counts of Class C felony attempted burglary. The maximum sentence for each of the charges is a $10,000 fine and 10 years in jail.
Gerald was charged with five counts of Class C felony surreptitious intrusion. The maximum sentence for each charge is a $5,000 fine and five years in jail.
Gerald also was charged with one count of Class C felony criminal trespass. The maximum sentence for the charge is $5,000 and five years in prison.
Assistant State’s Attorney Pamela Nesvig who is handling the case along with Assistant State’s Attorney Dawn Deitz, said all the charges, including the charge that was entered in December, are related and are scheduled to be tried together.
South Central District Judge Thomas J. Schneider scheduled Gerald’s next appearance for 9:45 a.m. April 23.