‘Shovel burglar’ set for sentencing Friday

A man who used a shovel to pry open doors in a string of burglaries in Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties is expected to be sentenced Friday.

Law enforcement officers in the three counties said Morgan Hicks, 35, broke into 20 homes with a shovel from June to September 2007.

On Jan. 18, Hicks pleaded guilty in Monterey County Superior Court to four counts of residential burglary, 15 counts of receiving stolen property, two counts of identity theft and one count of grand theft, according to court records.

It is not clear how many of the crimes were in Santa Cruz County.

Linda Marcetti of Rio del Mar said she came home from a vacation in August 2007 to find her front door broken open and her house ransacked. It appeared that a shovel was used to break the door and her shovel was gone.

“Everything was upended in house,” she said. “It was traumatic.”

Two computers, antique jewelry and a shovel and other items were stolen. Several homes on Clubhouse Drive also were burglarized. Doors were similarly pried open with a shovel, authorities said.

Hicks was arrested on suspicion of burglary in a motel room in Salinas in September 2007. He was held in Monterey County Jail and the court case continued with Hicks in custody.

Hicks’ attorney, Richard Rutledge, has said Hicks was released because of a clerical error.

In October 2007, a Monterey County judge raised Hicks’ bail from $25,000 to $350,000. The case was then assigned to Judge Terrance Duncan.

When Hicks later appeared before Duncan, a clerk mistakenly recorded in the minute order that Duncan had reduced the bail to $25,000. The minute order was entered into the jail’s records.

The error initially had no effect because Hicks’ parole agent had a no-bail hold on him at the jail. The hold was later lifted and he was released on $25,000 bail on May 15, 2010.

Hicks did not show up for his court dates.

In June 2010, Santa Cruz County deputies staked out a home in Carmel Valley and arrested Hicks as he left the house.

The state Attorney General’s Office prepared for a 2012 trial against Hicks, but Hicks pleaded guilty on Jan. 18, a Monterey County Court clerk said.

Neither Rutledge nor the San Francisco-based prosecutor, Deputy Attorney General Ralph Sivilla, returned calls seeking comment Wednesday.

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