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Syhavong offers guilty plea in burglary case

WORTHINGTON -- He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This is what Sonny Syhavong told Judge Jeffrey Flynn regarding the night he and three juveniles allegedly burglarized a Worthington residence.

Syhavong, 19, of Worthington, pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree burglary, entering into a plea agreement that dismissed a burglary conspiracy charge, aiding and abetting criminal damage to property and aiding and abetting theft under $500. A contempt of court charge on another case was also dismissed in the plea agreement.

Syhavong and the three juveniles were accused in December of breaking into a house and stealing a Nintendo Wii, along with coins and cash. When questioned by police, Syhavong denied knowing anything about a burglary or a stolen Wii.

After the house was burglarized, a friend of the family reported seeing a Wii at a juvenile's house that had a Wii Mii character the friend recognized as belonging to the daughter of the burglarized family. When authorities went to question the juvenile, they found Syhavong and two others, along with the Wii.

Under questioning at Tuesday's plea hearing, Syhavong admitted he and the three juveniles went to the residence around 3 a.m.

When asked why they had gone to the house, Syhavong replied, "To get stuff."

"You were going to burglarize it, right?" asked Flynn.

"Yeah," Syhavong replied.

They entered the house by breaking in, Syhavong admitted, then "went to go find stuff."

Syhavong said he did not take anything, but the others did.

"Whose idea was it to burglarize the house?" asked Assistant County Attorney Kim Pehrson.

"Everybody's," Syha-vong mumbled.

"Did you vote on it or what?" the judge questioned.

"Yeah," Syhavong replied.

A line of questioning regarding whether or not Syhavong had been in contact with the three juveniles since the charges were filed was cut off by public defender Christina Wietzema, who stated the questions were not relevant to the plea and commented Pehrson was on a "fishing expedition."

When asked by Flynn why a 19-year-old man had been hanging out with a group of 15- and 16-year-old teenagers, Syhavong said, "I was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

"That makes about as much sense as you hanging out with them," Flynn responded.

The plea agreement is for a stay of execution of sentence on the condition Syhavong serve 180 days in jail, scheduled to begin July 1, have no contact with the victims or the juveniles, pay restitution and not enter any establishments that sell alcohol. He will get credit for time served and be eligible for work release and community service.

Flynn accepted the guilty plea and ordered a pre-sentence investigation.

Syhavong has previous convictions for violating a restraining order and a juvenile adjudication for assault. He pleaded guilty in January to fleeing a peace officer and was charged Feb. 1 with fifth-degree assault, disorderly conduct and under 21 consumption.