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DeGuara cases set for trial

SLAYTON -- A tentative date has been set for a trial regarding stolen firefighter equipment, and two other cases with the same defendant set as back-up trials.

Joshua DeGuara, 31, formerly of Avoca, pleaded not guilty to domestic assault in Murray County District Court Monday after Judge David Christensen found there was probably cause to go ahead with the charge. DeGuara currently has three open files in Murray County, having been charged in seven separate cases in 2008 -- five in Murray County and two in Nobles County.

The case regarding the firefighter equipment has DeGuara charged with two felony counts of receiving stolen property. During a search at his residence in an unrelated matter, authorities allegedly located several pieces of firefighting and emergency medical equipment they believed belonged to the Avoca Fire Department, of which DeGuara was a probationary member.

The department officers inventoried their equipment and discovered many missing items, some of which had been seen by law enforcement personnel at the DeGuara residence. The items were confiscated, and DeGuara was charged with receiving stolen property in November 2008.

When his roommate's vehicle was repossessed a few days later, a complete set of turnout gear, which had been present during the inventory, was discovered in the trunk of the car, along with more equipment. A second stolen property charge was added. Some of the missing firefighter and emergency medical equipment has yet to be recovered.

A two-day jury trial has been scheduled for April 15 and 16. In the event the case settles before that date, his two remaining cases have been scheduled as back-up cases.

The two cases include a charge of theft, in which DeGuara is accused of stealing a full propane tank from a neighbor and hooking it up to his house, and a charge of domestic abuse, in which DeGuara allegedly bit his wife on the leg, leaving a complete set of teeth marks. He spent several days in the Nobles County Jail for the alleged domestic abuse charge, bailing out on a $5,000 non-cash bond.

In September 2008, DeGuara pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of theft after being accused of stealing a cell phone holder from a cell phone store in Slayton. While in the store, DeGuara reportedly remarked several times how much he liked the holder with the fire department insignia.

After he and his family left the store, employees found the empty package of the holder he had been admiring discarded on a high shelf. When confronted by authorities the following day, DeGuara blamed the theft on his 2-year-old son.

While pleading guilty to the charge, DeGuara told the judge his son had taken the case without his knowledge, but that he was pleading guilty to protect his wife, who was also charged in the matter and on probation. He was given a fine of $385, due within 60 days, and one year of probation. The fine was unpaid as of Monday.

In October, DeGuara pleaded guilty to driving without a valid license and driving an uninsured vehicle, both misdemeanors. He was given a fine of $435 and one year of probation. That fine, also, has not been paid.

In November, he pleaded guilty in Nobles County to issuance of a dishonored check for $256.61 and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, stayed on the condition he get no other misdemeanor violations. DeGuara was ordered to pay fines and restitution in the amount of $635.61, which as of Monday was unpaid.

DeGuara also has convictions in California for second-degree burglary, grand theft, impersonating a fireman, possession of a dangerous drug and petty theft. In a grand theft case from 2003, he allegedly shoplifted more than $400 worth of merchandise from a department store while shopping with an infant child, according to the asset protection specialist's report. Dated Jan. 15, 2003, the report states the specialist watched DeGuara steal a GPS, batteries, mini flashlights and a small drill, cutting open packaging with a pocket knife and concealing the merchandise in the lining of his child's car seat, which was in his cart, or putting items in his pocket.