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Mitchell man gets 60 days in jail for burglary

A Mitchell man will serve 60 days in jail for burglarizing a home in February 2012.

Joshua Wellnitz, 28, was sentenced Tuesday for the felony during circuit court at the Davison County Public Safety Center. Judge Tim Bjorkman sentenced Wellnitz to three years in prison, but suspended it, ordering Wellnitz to serve 60 days in 20-day increments.

On Feb. 25, 2012, Wellnitz entered a home on Seventh Avenue in Mitchell at night and stole cash, a gold wristwatch, a pair of work boots, toothpaste, mouthwash, food spices and cleaning products. He used to live at the residence and stated in court he returned there to get a Christmas tree his daughter requested.

"What were you thinking of?" Bjorkman asked Wellnitz.

Wellnitz shook his head and said he wanted to get the Christmas tree he left behind, but alcohol clouded his judgment and he took the other items.

"I don't have a good explanation for what I did. I do know I was absolutely wrong," he said.

Bjorkman said he is concerned about Wellnitz's behavior the night of the burglary, particularly citing the items he took from the residence.

"There's something kind of bizarre about those facts that concerns me for you and the public," he said.

Bjorkman noted several letters he received in support of Wellnitz, including one from his employer, one from his parents, another from his brother and other individuals he knows.

"I think you're fortunate to have a job with the employer you have," Bjorkman said, holding up the letter. "It appears to me from his letter that he's taken a personal interest in you. He stood up and saw enough in you to give you a second chance."

Bjorkman also mentioned he was mindful of his parents' and brother's information about Wellnitz's traumatic brain injury and his parents' suggestion he secure a guardian or conservator -- a person who would take care of his personal assets and basic needs.

Bjorkman ordered that Wellnitz begin his 60-day sentence at the end of this week. He will serve his second set of 20 days in jail starting on June 1, 2014, and the third set on June 1, 2015.

He is to pay a $500 fine, $104 in court costs and $50 restitution. He will be on three years of probation.

While on probation, he must enroll in the 24/7 Sobriety Program through July 2015, unless his court services office authorizes an early discharge.

He cannot consume, possess or be around alcohol or drugs. He must enroll and complete an evaluation, counseling, treatment or aftercare, including a psychological evaluation.

Bjorkman strongly suggested Wellnitz seek a guardianship or conservatorship to take care of his personal assets and basic needs, if court services recommends it.

He must also write a letter of apology to the victim within seven days of Tuesday and set up a visit with the victim via a mediator to hear his side of the story.

Bjorkman also granted work release for the first 20 days only of the 60-day sentence.

"As you move forward, remember your daughter," Bjorkman said. "In reading the letters from people who know you and your daughter, you are her only link to a stable upbringing."