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Man Who Passed Out in Break-In Gets 1 Year

A 21-year-old Salvadoran national, who authorities say passed out in a drunken stupor while burglarizing the residence of an elderly couple, has been sentenced to one year in jail, court officials said Thursday.

William Spencer Castro pleaded guilty to one count of felony burglary in the March 26 break-in at the Van Nuys residence of Betty Bernds, 83, and her husband, Edward, 84.

Betty Bernds arose from bed about 2 a.m. to help her husband and stepped on Castro, who was lying unconscious on the floor, prosecutors said.

Castro admitted to authorities that he drank 20 beers before breaking into the residence. Castro was carrying a seven-inch kitchen knife and had taken money and jewelry before passing out on the bedroom floor.

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He was still asleep when police arrived, authorities said.

In addition to the one-year jail term, Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Leon S. Kaplan sentenced Castro to five years probation and one year of house arrest and ordered him to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings five days a week for an indefinite period.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Robert Dver had asked Kaplan to sentence Castro to a state prison term.


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