A Florida Keys jury convicted a West Palm Beach man Thursday on burglary and grand theft charges stemming from a 2015 Islamorada break-in.
Keith Douglas Knespler, 31, faces a mandatory 15 years in prison since he is considered a "prison release re-offender," Monroe County State Attorney's Office spokesman Larry Kahn said. The crime happened within three years of Knespler being released from state prison on conviction of charges of burglary, grand theft auto and trafficking in stolen goods.
Throughout the day-long trial, Knespler blamed the crime on "Chad," a man who may or may not exist.
According to a State Attorney's Office press release, Knespler broke into a house on Preston Street on Upper Matecumbe Key on Feb. 26, 2015. Knespler was convicted of stealing $20,000 in jewelry, including four Rolex watches and "rare, historic jewelry from Tibet," Kahn said.
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Knespler was interrupted during the break-in when the owner came home and saw him from the outside of the house through the front sliding glass door. Knespler ran out through the back door carrying the stolen goods and hopped on a skateboard to escape. The homeowner borrowed a neighbor's bicycle and chased him while calling 911.
Knespler was able to get away, but Sheriff's Office deputies caught him later in the day with his girlfriend, who was not charged, lying in reclined seats inside a Chrysler PT Cruiser in the Newport Village subdivision in Key Largo.
During the trial, Knespler said he was innocent, and the real thief was a man named Chad whom he met the day before in Key West. He said he and Chad road-tripped to Islamorada and partied on heroin, cocaine and Xanax together.