ELKHORN

A Walworth County jury deliberated for eight hours—going late into Wednesday night—before acquitting a Delavan man of charges that he intimidated a witness and broke into an old building last spring.

The jury, however, convicted Jimmy D. Conrad, 31, most recently of 716 Phoenix St., for his connection to a 2016 burglary of a jewelry store, as well as charges he ran from an officer and violated a condition of his bond in connection to a 2017 incident.

The jury of eight women and four men deliberated from 3 to 11 p.m. Wednesday before reaching three guilty and two not-guilty verdicts, court records show.

The jury trial, which started Monday, strung together three case files:

  • A Feb. 21, 2016, break-in to Beall Jewelers in Delavan.
  • A March 30, 2017, break-in to an old building on County H in the town of Sugar Creek, where Conrad ran from a sheriff’s deputy.
  • An April 13, 2017, message Conrad was charged with sending to a witness, Christine Brandemuehl, 50, that allegedly showed Conrad’s hand choking her cat. The jury acquitted Conrad of this charge.

District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld said although there weren’t fingerprints or DNA to connect Conrad to the Beall burglary, testimony from accomplices—including the “lookout” from the burglary, Justin A. Cervantes, 27, of Elkhorn—showed Conrad was guilty.

Cervantes was already convicted in the case, so he derived no extra benefit from cooperating, Wiedenfeld argued during closing arguments Wednesday. Shortly after the burglary, Cervantes reported it.

“He could have gotten away, but he chose to do the right thing,” Wiedenfeld said.

Conrad’s lawyer, Melissa Frost, said the old building from the March 2017 case was burglarized but there wasn’t enough evidence to show her client did it.

Brandemuehl is charged with party to burglary for that case, which is ongoing.

Frost acknowledged the jury might not want to be Conrad’s friend and that he has done bad things—including his mother saying he stole jewelry from her—but those did not mean he was guilty of the charged crimes.

Wiedenfeld said when Conrad thought Brandemuehl “snitched on him,” he threatened her.

Brandemuehl interpreted the message with the cat as “this is what’s gonna happen to you,” according to the criminal complaint.

Frost said the prosecution’s witnesses were not credible and were just trying to save themselves. The motto of the case was “How can I get myself out of trouble?” she said.

She said nothing in the text-message exchange dissuaded Brandemuehl from testifying.

Frost questioned Brandemuehl’s emotions while on the stand, pointing out when they were most apparent and when they went away. Everyone had an interest in protecting themselves in this case, and self-preservation was huge, she said.

Even Frost conceded her client ran from a sheriff’s deputy following the March 30 incident. She said during her closing arguments the jury should convict him of that charge.

The jury also convicted Conrad of one count of felony bail jumping for violating his no-contact order with the witness.

Conrad did not testify at the trial, court records show.

Conrad will be sentenced at 10 a.m. April 16.

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