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A San Mateo dog walker convicted of stealing jewelry from his clients has been sentenced to 35 years in prison under the state’s three strikes law. Nicolas Barbanica, 33, broke down in tears when the sentence was handed down today by San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Lisa Novak.
In August, Barbanica pleaded no contest to two charges of residential burglary after he admitted to stealing $5,500 in jewelry from two San Mateo residents who had given him house keys to walk their dogs. The defendant pawned some pieces of jewelry and gave others to his girlfriend, prosecutors said. Barbanica had five prior residential burglary convictions spanning 15 years, one of which was committed when the defendant was a juvenile.
The prior convictions made Barbanica eligible for a prison sentence of 60 years to life under the three strikes law. Defense attorney James Thompson argued that Barbanica’s multiple convictions were for non-violent crimes, and that the defendant’s repeated offenses were due in part to a “childlike impulsivity” that was fueled by drug abuse and behavioral issues. Thompson said his client was not a career criminal and that he was simply attracted to “shiny things.”
Before handing down the sentence, Novak said she was “astounded” by the defendant’s “unwillingness to abate” his criminal behavior and that he had to face the consequences “of victimizing people over and over again.”
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