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Man caught by K-9 unit pleads guilty

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WORTHINGTON -- A man who had to be tracked to a hiding place under a deck by a Worthington Police K-9 Unit pleaded guilty in Nobles County District Court Tuesday to first-degree burglary, admitting on the stand he was entering into the plea agreement rather than taking his chances with a jury.

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Roberto Pito Gonzales, 41, of Lufkin, Texas, was arrested in April and charged with burglary and criminal sexual conduct after allegedly entering a house without permission and grabbing a woman inside, the complaint states. The man who called authorities, a relative of the woman, chased the intruder to keep him in sight until the K-9 unit arrived on scene.

The plea agreement called for the dismissal of the additional charges, with a stay of execution of sentence on the condition Gonzales serve six months in jail with credit for time served and up to five years of probation.

From the stand, Gonzales admitted Tuesday he had quite a bit to drink before trying to make his way to his niece's residence. He claims he was standing in the doorway of a neighboring apartment or a hallway in the building. The complaint states there was an upstairs and downstairs residence that shares a common doorway.

"I really didn't go inside," Gonzales told Judge Jeffrey Flynn.

Gonzales said the women were moving into the apartment and he offered to help, but then he ran away.

"They didn't know me -- they were frightened," he admitted.

Under questioning by his own attorney John Scholl, Gonzales he was entering into the plea agreement because the other charges carried much harsher penalties and a potential prison sentence.

"The complaint states the women were afraid because you were intoxicated, you grabbed one around the shoulders and tried to push your way back in ...?" Scholl asked. "But you're giving up your right to trial rather than take a chance on count 2, which would call for a prison sentence?"

At the time of the incident, the victims stated Gonzales grabbed them and entered their house. One woman said he grabbed her around the shoulder from behind until she struggled free. The other woman said he tried to grab her, but she held him off with the chair she had been carrying into the house. They were both screaming, they said.

"I really didn't hear any screaming," Gonzales testified. "I just took off."

Sentencing will take place at a later date after the pre-sentence investigation is complete.

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