A Douglas County jury has handed down a guilty verdict against a man who robbed a Parker jewelry store.
Prosecutors said Thomas Hild, 53, was recruited for his ability break into a safe using heavy duty construction tools. Two others have been charged in the case and face separate trials in March and June.
Hild was found guilty on all eight counts he faced, including theft, second-degree burglary, criminal mischief, third-degree-burglary, as well as "conspiracy to commit" charges on the four felony counts.
He faces a habitual criminal trial at 3 p.m. April 12 for being a repeat convicted felon, and faces a minimum of 48 years in prison. That verdict will be decided by Douglas County District Court Judge Paul A. King, who presided over the jewelry burglary case.
Hild, of Federal Heights, declined to testify Feb. 28 at the end of a four-day trial and left it up to his attorney, Marques Ivey, to deliver an impassioned response to the prosecution's equally charged closing argument.
Both King and deputy district attorney Jay Williford acknowledged that the state's case was based on circumstantial evidence, but Colorado law mandates that there be no distinction between direct evidence and circumstantial evidence, Williford said.
Ivey had said a guilty verdict would require the 12 jurors to take a "leap of faith" because there was no physical evidence linking Hild to the scene of the crime at Apex Jewelers in March 2012.
When confronted by a Parker police detective with allegations that he had been seen on surveillance footage, Hild initially denied being in Parker in March, then changed his story and told the detective he was behind the strip mall near Parker Road and Mainstreet to conduct a marijuana deal.
Roughly $474,000 worth of jewelry was taken from a safe at Apex Jewelers after Hild and his alleged accomplices broke into an unoccupied business pad next door and drilled through the concrete wall and steel safe. The jewelry has not been recovered.
"This audacious scheme which involved planning and preparation culminated in the theft of almost half a million dollars’ worth of merchandise. Today, the jury decided to hold defendant Hild accountable for his participation in these crimes,” prosecutors Williford and Laura Wilson said in a joint statement.
On a whim, Parker police lead detective Penny VanDenBerg decided to review surveillance video from a McDonald’s just feet away from the jewelry store around the burglary timeframe. That's when she saw alleged getaway driver Daniel Delgado, 28, ordering food. VanDenBerg used the vehicle's license plate to track down the third suspect, Charles Williams, 37.
The prosecution team presented evidence that they said showed Hild's history of involvement in break-ins, including two 2003 burglaries at a Noodles n' Company in Broomfield and an office complex in Lakewood.