Crime

He was called a homeowner’s worst nightmare. A judge gave him seven years in prison

Manuel Virginio Reynoso, 21, of Fresno, was sentenced Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, to seven years in prison for burglarizing a home in November 2016.
Manuel Virginio Reynoso, 21, of Fresno, was sentenced Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, to seven years in prison for burglarizing a home in November 2016. Fresno Police Department

The prosecution called it a homeowner’s worst nightmare – coming home to find an armed intruder.

A 50-year-old Fresno woman found herself in that predicament a year ago when she encountered 21-year-old Manuel Virginio Reynoso inside her home. He was armed with a knife and was stealing her 55-inch flat screen television.

If not for the bravery of her neighbor, Reynoso would have gotten away, prosecutor Andrew Janz said Wednesday in Fresno County Superior Court.

Janz credited Matthew Bowen, 37, with capturing the 21-year-old Reynoso. But it came at a price – during a struggle, Reynoso bit Bowen’s ear.

Without Matthew Bowen’s selfless act and quick thinking, Manuel Reynoso would still be roaming the streets victimizing unsuspecting homeowners.

Prosecutor Andrew Janz

On Wednesday, Judge Wayne Ellison sentenced Reynoso to seven years in prison after Reynoso apologized to the victims. “I’m sorry. What I did was not right,” Reynoso said. “I know I wouldn’t want that to happen to my family.”

On Oct. 5, Reynoso pleaded no contest to four felony charges of residential burglary, assault and grand theft, court documents say. In the documents, Reynoso, who had a steady job as a welder, blamed his actions on taking Xanax and pain pills prior to the crime.

In court, the female victim was identified only as Annette for her safety. According to Janz, she was having dinner at a restaurant when she received a text that her home alarm system had activated about 6 p.m. Nov. 10, 2016. On her cell phone, she watched a live surveillance video showing an intruder in her living room.

When she returned home, she saw Bowen, her neighbor, outside and told him what was happening. He told her to wait for police. But she was worried about the welfare of her dog, Zoe, who was in the house with the intruder, Janz said. Annette and Bowen decided to enter the home through the garage.

Reynoso's knife
The knife Manuel Virginio Reynoso used during a residential burglary in central Fresno in November 2016. Fresno County Superior Court exhibit

While looking for Zoe, they found Reynoso in the master bedroom. “I have a gun,” he said, according to court documents. But the victims didn’t see a gun; instead they saw Reynoso holding a pocket knife with the blade out.

Reynoso threw a lamp at the victims and charged them, but Bowen tackled him. During the struggle, Reynoso bit Bowen’s ear. A short time later, neighbors and police arrived to detain Reynoso. Police later determined Reynoso entered the home through a window with a cut screen.

I’m sorry. What I did was not right.

Convicted burglar Manuel Virginio Reynoso

Janz said Bowen suffered cuts to his hand and required seven stitches on his right ear. Neighbors found Zoe across the street, injured.

Manuel Virginio Reynoso
Manuel Virginio Reynoso, 21, of Fresno, was sentenced Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, to seven years in prison for burglarizing a home in November 2016. Fresno Police Department

“Without Matthew Bowen’s selfless act and quick thinking, Manuel Reynoso would still be roaming the streets victimizing unsuspecting homeowners,” Janz said.

Court records say the 5-foot-2, 120-pound Reynoso is a high school dropout who was once in the Eastside Fresno Bulldogs gang. He told authorities he started drinking and smoking pot at age 14, and over the years he abused methamphetamine, cocaine, Xanax and pain pills.

In court papers, Reynoso told the judge he quit the gang and was trying to turn his life around so he could be with his fiancee and two children, ages 6 and 2 months.

Ellison, however, told Reynoso his actions were dangerous. He ordered Reynoso to pay $8,671 in restitution to cover the damage to the home and the veterinary bill for Zoe. The judge also reminded Reynoso that even he admitted that he would not want his family to experience what his victims went through.

In announcing the punishment, Ellison noted for the record that Reynoso had no prior criminal record as an adult, and a minor record as a juvenile. The judge also appeared pleased that Reynoso had showed remorse. In sending him to prison, Ellison said: “Take care of yourself.”

Pablo Lopez: 559-441-6434, @beecourts

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