Williams Hall burglar enters guilty plea

D.J. Petty

Kent State student released on $20K bond

A Kent State student pleaded guilty to a felony burglary charge on Friday at his pre-trial hearing at the Portage County Common Pleas Court.

Matthew T. Branch was originally charged with burglary, a third-degree felony, before accepting a lesser fourth-degree felony charge in exchange for his guilty plea.

Branch, a sophomore pre-marketing major, was seen fleeing Williams Hall on May 5. An employee and three graduate students chased Branch before subduing him in a front campus parking lot, said Lt. Carl Sweigert of the Kent State police department.

The employee, Lisa Stamper, noticed that the stockroom she was preparing to close appeared out of order. She saw opened cabinets, a door pried open, and a backpack full of gloves, calculators, flasks and other items, according to Branch’s arrest report. After she placed a call to her supervisor, Branch bolted past her and out of the door. Stamper chased him.

“I did it because I was annoyed that someone would break into where I work at,” she said. “The hubris of it all angered me.”

Two students joined Stamper in the pursuit. A third student was able to tackle Branch. All four surrounded him until Kent State police arrived.

Defense attorney John P. Alexander Jr. said Branch was aware of the severity of his actions.

“He was going through some difficult times,” Alexander said. “He realizes the mistakes he made. He’s trying to become a successful member of society.”

Branch was released on a $20,000 personal recognizance bond. A fourth-degree felony can carry a maximum sentence of 18 months. His sentence will be determined at a later date.

Contact general assignment reporter D.J. Petty at [email protected].