Second brother charged in burglary

Published 8:14 am Friday, May 11, 2018

Billy Lee Wright, 36, of Austin was charged on Thursday in Mower County District Court with felony second-degree burglary-unoccupied dwelling and felony theft-take/use/transfer movable property without consent.

His brother, Christopher Lynn Wright, 29, of Austin was charged on April 9 with felony second-degree burglary-unoccupied dwelling and felony theft-take/use/transfer movable property without consent in the same case. He has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

According to court documents, Mower County deputies were dispatched to a burglary call at 9:13 p.m. on Nov. 1 in the 18000 block of Highway 105 in Austin Township. The victims told the deputies that they left the residence at 5:30 p.m. and came home at 9:06 p.m. They said that $12,600 was stolen from under a mattress in the bedroom. A deputy saw that a deadbolt on the bedroom door appeared to have been pried open with a crowbar. The couple suspected that Billy, who was divorced from a relative, might be responsible.

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There were tire tracks in the grass and mud outside the residence.

A deputy contacted the relative, who allegedly said that Billy had asked her if one of the victims still called bingo every Wednesday night for an Austin fraternal organization. She said she found the question “weird,” but he told her he planned to attend. When she learned he did not attend bingo, she confronted him about the burglary, to which he allegedly acted “on edge and scared.” The deputy asked if she was familiar with his brother, and she said she spoke to him once a week and that he drove a 2005 Dodge Neon.

A deputy spoke to Billy, who said he and Christopher had driven to Hayfield, Owatonna and Albert Lea the day of the burglary, according to court document. He initially denied being in the area of the burglary, but when told there was possible video evidence, he said they “went out that way, but not to (the victims’) house.”

The deputy met with Christopher on Nov. 12 at the Freeborn County Jail, where Christopher was incarcerated on another charge. When asked about his whereabouts on Nov. 1, Christopher allegedly said he was likely “selling something,” “high” or “going somewhere.” When the deputy asked about Billy, Christopher allegedly said, “Oh, I already know where this is going. I have no comment about that.”

A deputy received surveillance footage, which allegedly showed a Dodge Neon pull up to the house between 6:32-6:38 p.m. on Nov. 1, from the victims’ neighbor on Nov. 17. One of the victims later said she suspected the brothers were responsible because Billy was familiar with the dogs, who would likely bite strangers.

A Mower County detective contacted Billy and Christopher’s mother on a tip from the victims’ relative, according to court documents. She allegedly said that they told her they had broken into the house and that Billy “felt bad about it.” The detective then spoke to Christopher, who denied telling his mother, allegedly saying he had “committed a lot of burglaries,” but did not need to do them anymore because he sold “dope.”

On Feb. 20, Billy met with the detective at the Law Enforcement Center, according to court documents. He initially denied knowing who was involved, then allegedly admitted to the burglary, saying his brother “kept at” him and that his role was to keep the victims’ dogs under control. He also allegedly said that Christopher kept the money.

A review of Billy Wright’s criminal history shows prior convictions for possession of a small amount of marijuana, disorderly conduct and offering forged checks.

Billy Wright will appear in court again on May 24.