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Durango man sentenced in Pagosa burglary case

A Durango man who pleaded guilty to several burglaries in Archuleta and La Plata counties was recently sentenced in District Court in Durango.

Brian Harrell, 25 at the time of the incident, pleaded guilty to two counts of second degree burglary, a class four felony, and was sentenced to four years in the Department of Corrections for each count under Judge David Dickinson, reported Deputy District Attorney David Ottman.

Some of the charges against Harrell stemmed from the February burglary of the Everyday Store, located at the east end of Pagosa Springs.

The four-year sentences are to be served consecutively, and Harrell faces three years of parole upon his release.

Additionally, Harrell will pay restitution to the businesses burglarized, which Ottman indicated totaled upwards of 10 establishments.

His brother, Christopher Harrell, 27 at the time of the incident, also took a plea deal for his involvement in the burglaries and is awaiting sentencing on Dec. 9, Ottman said.

Christopher Harrell pleaded guilty to one count of second degree burglary, Ottman reported.

The two brothers, both of Durango, were arrested on June 20 in Durango in connection with a burglary earlier the same morning at a gas station on Jenkins Ranch Road (near Fort Lewis College).

According to a June press release from the Durango Police Department, Brian Harrell was also arrested last December for suspicion of committing burglaries inside the Durango Mall.

He was released on bond three days after his arrest and remained out on bond until his arrest on June 20.

Following their arrests, the men were linked to the then-unsolved Everyday Store burglary in Pagosa Springs, in which more than $10,000 in cash and merchandise was stolen.

At approximately 1:15 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 6, two suspects, clad in black and carrying tools, burglarized the Everyday Store at 300 E. Pagosa St., making off with a large amount of cash and over $1,000 worth of merchandise from the store — mostly cartons of cigarettes, Det. Scott Maxwell of the Pagosa Springs Police Department reported.

The two men — wearing black gloves, black pants, black hoodies and black masks — broke in through the back door before spending approximately an hour in the store, Maxwell said.

Using the tools they brought with them, the Harrell brothers broke into an ATM machine to steal the cash.

The men also stacked some merchandise outside the back door of the store, but did not take the items.

Authorities were alerted to the burglary shortly before 6 a.m. Sunday morning, when a store employee showed up for work.

In a Nov. 22 interview, Maxwell said footprints found at the site connected Archuleta and La Plata county burglaries to each other.

While investigating the February burglary, Maxwell said officials were able to focus on two distinct sets of footprints at the scene thanks to a scent trail followed by the PSPD’s K-9 unit.

Once the shoe prints were identified as potentially belonging to the burglars, Maxwell said the department was able to photograph them and the prints were shared with the Durango Police Department.

At the time, the shoe prints had not appeared at the scenes of any La Plata County burglaries, but began appearing later.

“That’s one of the main reasons they were about to tie our burglary to their burglaries,” Maxwell said.

Because the majority of the burglaries occurred in La Plata County, the Archuleta County incident was included with the La Plata County charges.

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