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Jury convicts ‘bug killer burglar’

On. Jan. 18, after less than a day of deliberation, a La Plata County District Court jury delivered a verdict on 27 counts of burglary and theft faced by Charles Edward Trogdon, an area pest exterminator accused of stealing from a number of clients.

The jury returned shortly after 3 p.m. with a verdict that consisted of 16 convictions and 11 acquittals, according to Deputy District Attorney Alex Lowe.

Eleven of the 16 convictions against Trogdon related to Archuleta County incidents. Six of the eleven acquittals came on Archuleta County cases.

Among the convictions were nine for felonies and seven for misdemeanors.

In May 2011, it was agreed that the Archuleta County and La Plata County cases would be tried jointly in La Plata County.

At the time, Lowe said the joinder would be more economical and did not allow Trogdon’s defense the chance to raise issues in one trial based upon the outcome of another trial, though Trogdon’s attorney, Will Herringer, stated there would be no “procedural trickery.”

“I feel it was good and it was fair,” Lowe said shortly after the trial ended, noting that he felt the jury (made up of eight women and four men) paid attention to the testimony, evidence and instructions given to them.

The trial was given to the jury at about 4 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, but the jury requested permission to go home within half an hour and returned to deliberations the next morning.

Lowe said Trogdon did not testify during the trial, so early statements were used in which Trogdon indicated he had purchased some of the stolen items found in his possession (three or four guns) at a flea market.

Trogdon’s main defense at trial challenged the investigations themselves and questioned whether those investigations proved Trogdon was the guilty party.

During the trial, Lowe said 15 firearms were admitted into evidence, as well as between 40 and 50 pieces of stolen property.

“It’s a difficult case, it’s a tough case for someone who’s been doing it for this many years,” Lowe said in a Monday interview.

Trogdon is set to be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. on March 15, in Durango.

Lowe said Trogdon could face a sentence of anything from probation to several years in prison.

“I thought the district attorney did a great job,” Det. Rich Valdez of the Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office said, adding that ACSO personnel did a “great job” on the case, as well. “It went from something small, and it grew into something so big.”

But, despite the majority of convictions coming from Archuleta County cases, Valdez said that, while it is good to have the time-consuming case in the past, he wishes it could have helped more people.

“I just wish that I could have gotten more victims in court, you know, and get them the opportunity to have him face them,” Valdez said.

Trogdon was the owner of Professional Exterminator, which is believed to have been in business since 1978, with many customers in the Four Corners. According to the Colorado Secretary of State website, the business expired in April 2011.

Trogdon is suspected of years of thefts from the homes of his customers in Archuleta and La Plata counties, totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, guns and jewelry stolen.

Those involved with the cases were banned from speaking to the media through much of the pretrial and trial work due to gag orders issued in both counties in December 2010.

Before the gag orders were put in place, however, Trogdon was arrested four times for burglary and served with five arrest warrants from Archuleta County and La Plata County in late 2010.

He posted a cash bond four times, for a total of about $76,000.

During the investigation, Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office personnel carried out five search warrants of Trogdon’s property — three at his home located off of La Plata County Road 501, one at Trogdon’s sailboat at Navajo State Park, and one at a mini-storage unit in Bayfield.

ACSO personnel also assisted La Plata County officials with a search of Trogdon’s property on Nov. 30, 2010. During the search, law enforcement personnel seized a number of stolen guns and $10,000 in cash. Subsequently, Trogdon was arrested for first-degree burglary.

Victims began coming forward following Trogdon’s Nov. 1, 2010 arrest, when one victim reportedly caught Trogdon in the act of attempting to steal money from a nightstand.

The victims had discovered money missing several different times over a span of 18 months and had used Trogdon’s exterminating services for eight years, according to a La Plata County Sheriff’s Office press release from the fall of 2010.

Another victim reportedly found Trogdon opening a jewelry box and had also noticed items missing over the previous two years, the press release noted.

randi@pagosasun.com

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