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Wayne Newton burglary case goes to Las Vegas jury

Updated June 21, 2019 - 8:29 am

The lawyer for a man accused of breaking into Wayne Newton’s house twice last year told jurors Thursday that pressure from the Las Vegas headliner and the media led to his client being used as a scapegoat to solve the case quickly.

Weslie Martin, 22, is charged with 11 felony counts including burglary, home invasion and grand larceny in connection with two June 2018 break-ins at Newton’s home near South Lamb Boulevard and Oquendo Road.

“Mr. Martin isn’t perfect,” his attorney, Chris Peterson, said in closing arguments. “He’s done some bad things. He did wrong. But he’s being charged with crimes he didn’t commit.”

On the day of the first burglary, June 3, 2018, security cameras at a neighbor’s home captured images of Martin and another man in the backyard. That house wasn’t broken into, but his attorney acknowledged that Martin was there.

Items from the first burglary were found in Martin’s home, and stolen jewelry was traced to Martin after he sold it at a pawnshop, prosecutors said. Items stolen during the second burglary were never recovered.

The Newtons came home during the second burglary, June 13, startling the two men who were inside. On Tuesday, Wayne Newton told the jury that two of the family’s dogs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, attacked the fleeing burglars after one of them threatened his wife with a crowbar. Both dogs were injured, he said, and one had its teeth knocked out.

Police have not identified a second suspect.

Newton said that his 17-year-old daughter, Lauren, was so shaken by the first burglary that she began sleeping in her parents’ bedroom.

During the trial, Martin’s attorneys argued that there was no evidence linking him to the second burglary, despite any connections he might have to the first.

“The last defense between a man and a wrongful conviction is the jury,” Peterson said.

Deputy District Attorney Jory Scarborough said in closing statements that Martin was charged because he was the right suspect, not the most convenient one.

“Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Yes, it was Wayne Newton, but that doesn’t change the facts of the case,” Scarborough said. “Someone went into a man’s house, took his property and terrified his family.”

He said that while there were no fingerprints or DNA to tie Martin to the second burglary, there was more than enough circumstantial evidence, such as similarities between both break-ins and the clothing the burglars were seen wearing in surveillance footage.

Deputy District Attorney John Giordani added: “I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, but this sure as hell isn’t one of them. Mr. Martin is guilty of these 11 crimes.”

The jury’s verdict was expected Friday morning.

Contact Max Michor at mmichor@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0365. Follow @MaxMichor on Twitter.

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