Suspect in burglary of Jobs' house gets new lawyer, plea date
After brief court appearance, Kariem McFarlin sees his plea postponed until Sept. 19
Kariem McFarlin, who was arrested earlier this month for allegedly burglarizing the Palo Alto home of the late Steve Jobs and making off with a cache of computers, iPads, Tiffany bracelets and a bottle of Cristal champagne, will wait another month before entering his plea.
McFarlin, 35, was arrested on Aug. 2 after Palo Alto police and investigators from the regional Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team (REACT) Task Force raided his Alameda apartment and allegedly found many of the items that were stolen on the night of July 17 from the Waverley Street home of the iconic Apple co-founder. According to a report from REACT, McFarlin subsequently admitted to having committed the burglary and had even penned a letter of apology to Jobs' widow, Laurene Powell Jobs.
McFarlin was scheduled to enter a plea Monday, Aug. 20, in Palo Alto. But his newly hired attorney, San Jose-based James Kellenberger, and prosecutors jointly requested that the plea be continued until a later date. Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Thang Nguyen Barrett scheduled the plea for Sept. 19.
In his first court appearance since the burglary became publicized, triggering national news headlines, McFarlin looked calm and composed as he awaited the proceedings. Wearing handcuffs and dark green, jail-issued baggy shirt and pants, he conferred with Kellenberger for several minutes and then agreed to waive his right to a speedy trial.
McFarlin was previously represented by the county's Office of the Public Defender. Kellenberger, a former Santa Clara County prosecutor, said he was "privately retained" by McFarlin's family. He then indicated in a brief but tense chat with news reporters that he would not be speaking to the media about his client's case, saying that his "ethical responsibility" is to his client, "not to the public or the press."
The burglary is, in many respects, much like dozens of others that have hit Palo Alto this year, prompting police to launch a public campaign to educate residents on ways to prevent burglaries and to devote more resources to ending this trend. But because of Jobs' legendary status, the case has triggered nationwide interest and has dominated headlines far beyond Palo Alto.
According to a report from REACT, McFarlin said he was not aware that he was in Jobs' home at the time he was breaking into the residence, which was undergoing renovation. He allegedly realized whose home he was in only after finding a letter addressed to Jobs. That did not stop him, however, from reportedly making off with a hefty haul of items, including iMacs, iPods and a 64GB iPad — and the letter.
McFarlin had also allegedly given away two other iPads that he stole from the Jobs residence, one to his daughter and another to his friend, Kenneth Kahn, also known as "Kenny the Clown." Both recipients had told investigators that they didn't know the iPads were stolen. Neither McFarlin's daughter nor Kahn — an Alameda-based clown who bills himself on his Facebook page as the "Rocky Balboa of the clown world" — was charged with anything.
McFarlin, meanwhile, faces up to seven years and eight months in prison if found guilty of burglary and selling of stolen property.
Police are also investigating other burglaries that they believe McFarlin was involved in. According to the REACT report, McFarlin had told investigators that he had stolen items from four or five homes in San Francisco over the past year and a half. Police had located several items from those burglaries, including a stolen handgun and a bar of silver, according to the report.
Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at email@example.com.