20-year-old pleads not guilty to burglary charges

Published 6:34 am Friday, October 23, 2009

An Austin man who was arrested while rummaging through a local homeowner’s garage on Oct. 3 pleaded not guilty to burglary charges Thursday.

James John Mentz, 20, is scheduled to appear in Mower County court Jan. 22 for a pre-trial hearing on first-, second- and third-degree felony burglary charges.

The trial is set to begin Feb. 1.

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The 49-year-old homeowner called police at around 6:20 a.m. on that Saturday and said there was someone in her garage on the 900 block of Eighth Avenue Northwest.

The woman had taken her dog out for a walk when she noticed a garage door open and a flashlight darting around inside. She also said an interior light was on in her vehicle, according to a criminal complaint.

Police arrived and set up a perimeter around the garage.

Officers then moved into the garage and found Mentz hiding under the car.

He refused to come out and show his hands, which led police to use a Taser.

Mentz still refused to leave his spot, so police sprayed him with a chemical irritant and eventually dragged him from under the car.

He was taken to jail, where he had his eyes flushed and was booked.

The complaint states that contents of the vehicle’s glove compartment were scattered on the floor but nothing was reported stolen.

A flashlight, which the homeowner said she had never seen before, was found by police on the front passenger seat.