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The Times' criminal justice team looks behind the scenes and behind the headlines.

July 20, 2010 at 4:08 PM

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Ho-ho-ho: Jury convicts 'Santa Claus burglar'

Posted by Jennifer Sullivan

A man who was nicknamed the "Santa Claus burglar" after he became stuck in the chimney of a Seward Park home earlier this year during a botched burglary attempt was found guilty Tuesday of residential burglary, prosecutors said.

On Feb. 19, Shon Shanell put a chair on top of a central air conditioning unit to get on the roof of the home, court charging documents said. Shanell, who is 5-feet-9 and 155 pounds, was stuck in the chimney for nearly six hours.

It's unclear how Shanell managed to get stuck.

After pulling the man from the chimney, police immediately dubbed him the "Santa Claus burglar." Police Lt. Kerry Guynn remarked: "This is my 42nd year as a cop. I ain't never seen this."

A King County jury deliberated for a few hours about an hour on Tuesday afternoon before reaching a verdict. The case was handled by Deputy Prosecutor Maurice Classen, who is assigned to the repeat burglary initiative. The prosecutor's office started the initiative last year as a way to push for the stiffest possible punishment for prolific criminals.

Shanell faces less than two years in prison when he is sentenced on Aug. 5, Classen said.

Shanell has a criminal history that includes convictions for possession of a stolen vehicle and drug violations, according to charging documents. The documents say he had been released from jail on an unrelated possession of a stolen vehicle charge on Dec. 25.

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