Man pleads no contest to stalking Halle Berry

(Reuters) - A man with a criminal history who showed up at Oscar winner Halle Berry's house in the Hollywood Hills pleaded no contest on Thursday to a charge of stalking her, and a judge ordered him to stay 200 yards away from the actress for 10 years.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dennis Landin also handed down a 386-day jail sentence to the 28-year-old man, Richard Franco.

But Franco will soon be released because he has already served half that term behind bars since his arrest in July, and he is being given credit for the other half of the sentence under measures to reduce overcrowding in the Los Angeles County jail system, prosecutors said.

Franco, who according to Los Angeles police has a history of violence, theft and drug offenses, was found to have a book with "nonsensical ramblings" and Berry's name in his handwriting, the actress said in court papers filed last year.

Franco first approached Berry's home on July 9, 2011, when she was talking to her manager and saw through a glass door that Franco -- whom she does not know -- was in the gated backyard, the papers stated. Berry's manager yelled at Franco and he left, she said in the papers.

The actress further said that on July 10, she went to her kitchen to get a Diet Coke and noticed Franco was on the other side of a glass door, less than one foot away.

She said she ran upstairs to call police. That evening, arrangements were made to have armed security officers at her home, and Franco was caught when he returned the next day.

Los Angeles police Detective John Gregozek testified in court last year that he spoke to Berry a day after the defendant's arrest.

"She was afraid for her safety and that of her daughter, as well," Gregozek said. "She hired armed security to stay at her residence 24 hours."

As a result of his plea, a residential burglary charge against Franco was dismissed.

In addition to jail time and the stay away order, Franco was placed on five years probation and ordered to undergo one year of psychological counseling, said Los Angeles deputy district attorney Wendy Seagall.

(Reporting By Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)


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