Jury finds man guilty of break-ins at Wayne Newton home

Entertainment

Wayne Newton takes the witness stand in the State of Nevada case against Weslie Martin, accused of burglarizing Newton’s home, at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas, Tuesday, June 18, 2019. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Nevada prison inmate was found guilty Friday of burglarizing the mansion of “Mr. Las Vegas” entertainer Wayne Newton twice a year ago and trying to break into a neighboring home.

Weslie Hosea Martin, 22, didn’t testify during the trial and didn’t visibly react to the jury verdict in Clark County District Court.

He smiled for a news photographer while leaving the courtroom in custody.

Martin has previous burglary-related and firearms convictions and could face up to life behind bars as a habitual criminal at his sentencing Aug. 15 in the Newton case.

Newton, his wife Kathleen McCrone Newton, and their 17-year-old daughter testified Tuesday about encountering two burglars fleeing their home. The family was not in the courtroom for the verdict.

Martin was convicted of 12 felonies, including home invasion, theft of a firearm, robbery with use of a weapon and possession of a weapon by a felon.

His public defenders, Will Ewing and Chris Peterson, told jurors he was accused of crimes he did not commit. Peterson said they will seek leniency at sentencing and will evaluate the case for appeal.

Prosecutors John Giordani and Jory Scarborough called the verdict appropriate.

“What he was charged with is what he did. Plain and simple,” Giordani told the jury during closing arguments.

The trial took three days and the jury of seven women and five men deliberated about six hours.

Newton testified that he carries a gun and had fired one shot in the air to scare away two burglars he and his family apparently surprised when they arrived home after one of his Las Vegas Strip performances.

The 77-year-old “Danke Schoen” singer said his wife cried out that one fleeing man raised a tire iron as if to hit her before using it to attack one of the family’s large Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs. The other dog chased the other burglar.

The Newtons escaped injury. Their dogs were treated by a veterinarian for head injuries and broken teeth. Police found evidence the intruders tried but failed to pry open a safe in the home.

Martin’s lawyers conceded that Martin’s face was captured on a doorbell security camera at a neighboring home the night of the first Newton home burglary. The Newtons were in New York at the time.

Authorities say Martin later sold items taken that night to a coin and jewelry business. He was arrested in July 2018 and sent to prison for a firearms conviction.

Peterson told jurors that no items from the second break-in were sold or found by police, and only a vague video image from the Newton home stairway might have tied Martin to the second break-in.

The defense attorney also pointed to Kathleen Newton’s two-page written statement for police, which said nothing about having been threatened with a tire iron.

Wayne Newton is marking his 60th year performing his signature song, “Danke Schoen,” in Las Vegas and on tour. He used a cane in the courtroom, telling the jury he had recent back surgery.

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