OCEANSIDE — A serial thief was convicted Oct. 30 for the burglary of an elderly Oceanside couple’s residence.
After a full day of deliberations, a jury of seven men and five women found Joseph Michael Bareno Jr. guilty of a June 25, 2007, burglary of a residence on Wisteria Drive, during which he stole approximately $25,000 in jewelry and heirlooms, including a pen set from then-Gov. Ronald Regan.
Because Bareno received 13 strikes for a 2001 conviction out of San Diego County on 13 counts of residential burglary, the 43-year-old faces 25 years to life in prison. A hearing to examine his prior convictions, at which time a sentencing date may be set, has been scheduled for Nov. 13.
Despite receiving the aforementioned strikes, Bareno didn’t receive a long prison term for that conviction because under the three strikes law, strike offenses aren’t applied until the next conviction, Deputy District Attorney George Lyod said. “It’s like he has two strikes and 11 foul balls.”
At the heart of the case was a fingerprint that Bareno left behind when he entered the home through an open bathroom window, as well as the defendant’s statement to the police. When officers told him they had some questions about a June burglary but didn’t give a specific date, Bareno immediately blurted out “I was working that day.”
According to authorities, Bareno had worked in the five months prior to the burglary, but had been unemployed in June.
Following the hearing, Juror 4, a 63-year-old San Marcos man who asked not to be identified, said he and other jurors had issues with the fingerprint evidence because of the poor photocopy that was presented by the prosecution as evidence. After the first half day of deliberations, the juror said he was leaning toward “not guilty,” but after an evening to think about the evidence he decided on “guilty” due to his belief that the verification of Bareno’s fingerprint was correct, because he believed the collection of the evidence was valid.