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Surprise plea ends Watertown man’s burglary trial

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A surprise plea Thursday morning abruptly ended the Jefferson County Court trial of a Watertown man charged with committing two burglaries in the city.

Travis L. Peterkin, 44, pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary, second-degree attempted burglary and resisting arrest. The pleas came at the start of the trial’s third day, sending jurors home.

It had been alleged that he broke a window to gain entry into the Mill Street residence of Franklyn A. and Kathleen M. Cowles on Nov. 9, 2012, and stole more than $3,000 worth of jewelry. It further was alleged that on Dec. 29 he broke into a Barben Avenue residence with the intent to steal something.

Mr. Peterkin, who represented himself at trial, had told jurors in his opening statements that he possessed stolen property, but said he did not commit burglaries to obtain the goods. He also admitted that he tried to sell the two rings taken from the Cowles residence to a Watertown business that buys gold.

A break in the case may have come Wednesday when Mr. Peterkin apparently unwittingly revealed his identity to a witness who previously had been unable to identify him. The Cowleses’ daughter had interrupted the burglary at their residence and accosted the man, holding onto his bicycle in an attempt to prevent him from leaving the scene. The suspect warned her to let go of the bike and she did. While Mr. Peterkin was questioning the daughter on the stand, she was able to testify that she recognized him as the suspect by his voice and mannerisms.

Mr. Peterkin also admitted with his pleas that he struggled with city police officers who tried to arrest him Dec. 30 on Stone Street.

He is expected to be sentenced Dec. 20 to 7 years in state prison, followed by an additional five years of supervision upon his release. Mr. Peterkin has represented himself previously in County Court, including unsuccessfully in 2001 in which the charges were also burglary, also of city residences. Following trial, he was sentenced to up to seven years in state prison after being convicted of 16 counts, including two counts each of second-degree burglary, third-degree grand larceny and third-degree criminal possession of stolen property.

He also served three previous prison sentences, according to the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision website.

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