A Palo Alto man who suffers from schizophrenia was acquitted of residential burglary on Tuesday, April 23, but he still faces up to 18 months in jail after being convicted of attempted vehicle theft, Cindy Hendrickson, Santa Clara County supervising deputy district attorney said.
Axel Morales, 20, of Palo Alto was arrested Nov. 12, 2012, after a resident returned home and found a man trying to steal his vehicle.
The resident had received a telephone call from his housekeeper, who arrived at the home and found a man rummaging through the house. When the resident came home he found Morales in the front seat of his vehicle, which was parked in the driveway. He was trying to start the car, according to Palo Alto police.
Morales was still inside the vehicle when police arrived. He refused to leave the car or comply with officers' instructions until a police canine unit arrived.
Deputy District Attorney Duffy Magilligan said Morales gave police consent to search his bedroom, where they found cuff links belonging to the resident. Morales had apparently entered the home two days earlier but left undetected, Magilligan said. In both cases, Morales allegedly entered the house using a hide-a-key that the victim had placed outside, according to police.
The defense had argued and brought witnesses who testified that persons afflicted with schizophrenia can engage in odd behavior that could include the type of behavior exhibited by Morales, Magilligan said.
Morales lives with his mother and graduated from Palo Alto High School in 2010. Friends of the family said he became ill in July 2012, and had troubles thereafter. He worked two jobs and was active in soccer and tennis while at Paly. He and his mother had been members of Raices de Mexico, a folkloric dance group.
Morales' public defender could not be reached for comment.