Trial ordered for men accused of school iPad thefts

SAN DIEGO — Three Riverside County men accused in the thefts of iPads and other electronic devices from nine San Diego County schools must stand trial on charges of burglary and receiving stolen property, a judge ruled Thursday.

ipadsTrevor J. Williams and Thomas Earl Burleson, both 21, are documented gang members, and Eyon Zimmerman, 19, is a known associate, according to Deputy District Attorney Brendan McHugh.

The charges against the defendants include allegations that the crimes — which began Nov. 18 — were committed for the benefit of a gang, McHugh said.

After a daylong preliminary hearing, Judge David Gill ordered Burleson to stand trial on three counts, and Williams and Zimmerman to proceed to trial on seven and nine counts, respectively.

Burleson and Zimmerman face up to 14 years in prison if convicted, while Williams could face up to 13 years behind bars, said Deputy District Attorney Brendan McHugh.

All three are being held in lieu of $300,000 bail.

The trio allegedly broke into classrooms at schools in Del Mar Heights, Cardiff, Lakeside and other communities, stealing iPads, laptop computers and other electronics.

Some of the defendants used their cell phones in the area of the schools the nights of the break-ins, according to court testimony.

The defendants were arrested Jan. 30 at a Temecula-area Border Patrol checkpoint. The iPads stolen from the Del Mar school earlier that morning or the night before were recovered from the defendants’ car, along with a laptop computer, bolt cutters and a projector, McHugh said.

Burleson, Williams and Zimmerman will be back in court May 30 for a readiness conference. Trial was set for June 7.