‘Sovereign citizen’ defendant convicted of Metairie home burglary

A Metairie man who on the eve of his trial declared he’s a sovereign citizen and refused to answer the judge’s questions was convicted Tuesday night (March 22) of burglarizing an elderly widow’s home.

Sean Stock, 28, a tree trimmer, was convicted of simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling and possession of stolen things. He broke into the woman’s 47th Street home near South Causeway Boulevard on June 20. The woman asserts someone broke into her home the following day, but Stock was not charged with a second offense.

“I just couldn’t believe someone broke into my property two days in a row,” the woman testified on Tuesday.

The woman said she lost coins, a laptop computer and jewelry that included her engagement ring and the wedding band that belonged to her husband who died on Good Friday 2014.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested Stock on June 23. Stock initially said an acquaintance gave him the stolen items to sell.

He eventually confessed, saying he was familiar with the woman’s home because the woman hired him to remove a tree from the property and he performed various tasks there previously. His court-appointed attorney alleged the confession was false and based on detectives’ intimidation and coercive tactics during the interview with detectives.

During the investigation, the woman said he heard detectives mention the name Sean, she testified. She inquired and when was shown his photograph, she recognized he was the man she previously hired to cut down a tree her property and performed home repairs.

That led to his being questioned. The jury was shown a video of Stock’s interrogation, during which he said he was given the stolen jewelry and an incredulous detective told him, “Come one man, this is not adding up. There’s no judge that’s going to buy this” explanation.

The jury seated on Monday deliberated about 45 minutes in finding that Stock is guilty as charged.

Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court set Stock’s sentencing for April 4. Stock faces one to 12 years in prison for the burglary and up to 10 years for possessing stolen things.

On Monday, Judge Kovach sentenced Stock to six months in jail after finding him in contempt of court because he refused to answer her questions. Stock announced before jury selection began that he wanted to act as his own attorney.

The request led to a required hearing during which the judge questioned the defendant about self-representation. During it, Stock refused to answer questions, alluding to his affiliation with the sovereign citizens movement, an anti-government movement whose followers refuse to recognize laws or pay taxes.

Stock raised the affiliation during the past week. Prosecutors also sought a court order barring Stock from raising the issue in front of the jury had he testified, saying he could not have a fair trial “if his defense will be based solely on utterly irrelevant, and frivolous contentions.” Stock did not testify.

Stock has previous convictions of carjacking, for which he was sentenced to five years in prison in 2004, and possession of drug paraphernalia, for which he received a 6-month sentence in 2012.

Assistant District Attorneys Douglas Rushton and Andrew DeCoste prosecuted the case.

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