The daily Boston Criminal Lawyer Blog today examines a crime that has just got to provide a figurative punch to your gut.
Elsie C., 83, (hereinafter, the “Victim”) had just attended a church service. She was outside the Belmont Street Stop & Shop, reviewing her grocery receipt. She says she was on her way to place flowers at the gravesides of her husband and son. You see, she was going to decorate the graves of her son, a Marine Sergeant killed in the Vietnam War and her husband, a deceased World War II veteran.
That was when she got robbed.
Suddenly, according to the Victim, a man ripped open her car door and wrestled away her purse. The first time she had seen the gentleman?
Police say that Benjamin B., 29 (hereinafter, “Male Defendant”), along with Bianca M., 20, (hereinafter, “Female Defendant”), tried to pass two fraudulent checks at the grocery store shortly before the robbery. In fact, they are said to have been videotaped by surveillance cameras exiting the store and watching the Victim load up her car and get in before the robbery.
The Victim believes that she may have actually interacted with the two defendants inside the store, letting them go before her in the grocery line since they had few items. “I told him to go in front of me, which he did,” she remembers.
At first, the Victim says she thought she was going to be “hijacked” when Male Defendant opened her car door. However, after the robbery, she recovered herself and went back inside the grocery store and informed employees about the stolen purse. One person ran into the parking lot to try to catch the thief, while another telephoned police, who found the defendants hiding in a backyard on Dennis Avenue, police said.
Police caught and arrested Female Defendant in the yard, allegedly along with the Victim’s wallet, driver’s license and Stop & Shop card nearby. Male Defendant, ever the gentleman, reportedly fled on foot as officers stopped Female Defendant.
In an apparent attempt to divert police attention and disrupt the chase, Male Defendant called 911 from his cell phone and reported that an officer had been shot at a traffic stop across town. However, dispatchers were able to determine that the call was a hoax, and a resident who saw the foot chase tackled Male Defendant and held him until officers arrived, police said.
Male Defendant is said to have also broken into a home during the chase and stripped off his clothing to try to avoid detection.
He was unsuccessful in avoiding capture, yet successful in adding more charges to his roster. He was charged with unarmed robbery of a victim over 60, larceny from a person, breaking and entering a vehicle daytime felony, breaking and entering a residence, resisting arrest, witness intimidation and misleading report and disorderly disturbance.
Female Defendant was charged with unarmed robbery from a victim over 60, larceny from a person, and breaking and entering.
Both defendants were arraigned Monday at Brockton District Court. The Commonwealth is deciding whether to indict the case or prosecute it in District Court.
Attorney Sam’s Take:
The defendants are both looking at felony charges which is why the Commonwealth is looking into presenting the case to the Grand Jury.
There are a couple of aspects to this case which make it more serious than the ordinary robbery.
First of all, there is the status of the Victim. She is over the age of 60 which tends to put her in a more protected class than if she were younger. Like hate crimes, domestic abuse and attacks on children, this is the type of case that the Commonwealth particularly takes to heart…especially given the resulting public outcry they often bring.
In this case, they also have a horrible story about one of the more sympathetic victims one is likely to encounter. Then, you also have the chase, complete with home invasion. What prosecutor is not going to want to take this case to trial?
It is also worth noting how Male Defendant has made his situation worse…not that it needed the help. The break-in brought more felony charges. Also, the call to 911, albeit a somewhat novel approach, is not likely to have been particularly appreciated…as we saw earlier this week.
The reasons for the lengths to which Male Defendant went to avoid capture are unknown right now. For example, we do not know if there was a warrant pending against him which made it even more important not to get caught. However, as I have often noted, these types of attempted escapes are rarely successful.
Frankly, even if he had escaped, law enforcement still had use of the video from the store as well as Female Defendant who they would have tried to squeeze for information. Given any such escape, as well as the fact that he was the actual alleged robber, the police would have been more interested in him than her anyway.
By the way, in case you are wondering why Female Defendant is charged with the robbery as well, remember what we reviewed about conspiracies and “joint ventures”. The police believe that she acted with Male Defendant, at least in the planning…and certainly being in possession of the stolen items…from the robbery. Therefore, she is responsible for what he did.
She is apparently not being charged for the crimes Male Defendant allegedly committed during his chase, because, the conspiracy had apparently ended. However, in certain circumstances, what one defendant does as part of the escape (such as committing a homicide to get away), co-conspirators can be charged.
Have a good, safe and law-abiding weekend!
The full article of this story can be found at http://www.thebostonchannel.com/news/19335065/detail.html