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Teen pleads to charge in burglary, as DNA testing does him in

WILLMAR -- A 19-year-old Spicer teen pleaded guilty Monday to a second-degree burglary charge for breaking into a Willmar home -- which ultimately led to $11,000 in damage in addition to the $10,000 in property taken, including a gun.

As part of a plea agreement reached in Kandiyohi County District Court, three additional felony charges against Mathew James Zuroff will be dismissed and he will pay $5,500 in restitution. The break-in caused the home's pipes to freeze, burst and cause water damage.

The total amount of damage and missing pr-operty was $21,497.86, according to the homeowners' insurance company.

Zuroff's dispositional hearing is Jan. 24. He will be sentenced under extended juvenile jurisdiction, under which a young defendant receives a juvenile sentence and a stayed adult sentence. If the juvenile fails to comply with the juvenile sentence, the adult sentence is enacted.

According to the petition against Zuroff, analysis of a blood sample taken from the scene of the Jan. 19, 2008, crime implicated him as the burglar. The analysis was completed by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Felony charges against 16- and 17-year-olds are public record.

According to the petition, Willmar police were called Feb. 1, 2008, to a home in the city's northwest quadrant. A couple had just returned from a vacation and found their home had been burglarized.

Someone had entered through a utility room window and the cold air entering the room had caused the water pipes to freeze and burst. The leaking pipes had caused about $11,000 in damage including saturated carpet, damaged drywall and broken water softener and water meter.

Every drawer of the home had been gone through and items were strewn about the home. Missing items included jewelry, a shotgun, a jar of coins, a leather jacket, ammunition, a television, computer, DVD player, tuner, computer and screen and multiple DVDs.

Officers found dried blood on several items, including a freezer and gun safe that had been moved during the burglary. Samples were taken and sent to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which matched the convicted offender sample on file from Zuroff. The teen has three prior juvenile adjudications for burglary and adjudications for property damage and motor vehicle theft in January of this year.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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