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Three-strikes burglar a step closer to release

A Santa Rosa man who has spent the past 15 years in prison after being convicted of possessing stolen computer equipment took a step closer to freedom.

Dale Curtis Gaines, 55, is seeking his release under Proposition 36, which amended the state's three-strikes law. It makes them eligible to go free if their most recent offense was neither violent nor serious.

Prosecutors at a hearing Friday agreed Gaines could qualify. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1998 for possessing equipment stolen from the American Cancer Society. His previous convictions were burglaries.

However, Gaines will have to prove he is not a danger to society. Before he can be released, Judge Shelly Averill will review his prison conduct. Both sides will argue their positions at a March 15 hearing.

His lawyers said he is physically disabled and will report to a San Francisco re-entry and jobs training program.

Proposition 36 was approved in November by 69 percent of voters statewide and 76 percent in Sonoma County.

Gaines would be the county's second three-striker to be freed.


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