Blooming Prairie man pleads guilty to burglary charges
The man authorities believe was responsible for a string of burglaries in January pleaded guilty to five charges Thursday and had eight others dismissed in a plea deal in Mower County District Court.
Brett Aaron McKee, 33, who has a Blooming Prairie address, pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree burglary and one count of second-degree burglary of a dwelling, all felonies. He also entered guilty pleas to two counts of fourth-degree damage to property, a misdemeanor.
Three other felonies and five other misdemeanor charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
McKee is scheduled to be sentenced on June 17.
According to the original criminal complaint, deputies responded to a theft report Jan. 8 in the 30000 block of 540th Avenue, north of Austin.
A man at the residence told law enforcement that sometime between 3 a.m. and 8 a.m. someone had entered the home and stolen money out of his wife's purse.
While investigating, deputies found footprints in the snow outside the house.
Prior to that report, local authorities received an alert from the Albert Lea Police Department regarding a vehicle that had been parked behind a business there.
According to the complaint, when Albert Lea officers approached the car, they saw pry bars inside; McKee was identified as the driver.
McKee allegedly gave those officers an address on 540th Avenue in Austin, so Mower County authorities were notified of the incident.
When deputies asked the man who'd reported the home burglary if he knew McKee, the man reportedly said he did know "a Brett who lived down the road."
Deputies then responded to the address McKee had given Albert Lea officers; the vehicle they described was parked in the driveway.
According to the complaint, one set of footprints in the driveway matched the footprints around the alleged victim's house.
A search warrant was issued when no one came to the door, but the homeowners arrived home and let the deputies in. They knew nothing about the burglaries, the report said.
McKee, who was inside the home, was arrested without incident.
Four additional criminal complaints outlining further charges were filed against McKee on Jan. 14 in Mower County District Court.
Officials believe the footprints link McKee to burglaries at Echo Lanes, the Avon Shop, Super Fresh and Austin Aquatics, in addition to an attempted burglary of the Hardy Geranium. A pry bar was used to gain entry in most of the crimes.
Typically, nothing but cash was taken in the burglaries, according to Mower County Sheriff Terese Amazi.
According to court records, McKee was convicted of second-degree burglary, a felony, in 2001. He was sentenced to 23 months in prison in that case.