It was early morning in Fitchberg. It was a Cumberland Farms store. It was a Massachusetts armed robbery.
And a state trooper was nearby.
Trooper Donald Gray was in the vicinity of 367 River Street, at the intersection of River and Daniel streets when he took the gentlemen (hereinafter, the “Defendants”) into custody. They were nabbed approximately 700 feet from the store, according to Fitchburg Police Captain Paul Bozicas.
Bozicas added that Fitchburg officers were responding at the time when they were notified that Gray already had the men in custody.
Authorities say that the Defendants were still wearing the masks they had allegedly worn during the robbery when the trooper stopped them.
Apparently, it was sheer luck that Gray was patrolling the Central Massachusetts community at the time. and he recovered a knife authorities suspect was used during the robbery of the Cumberland Farms store
“It was good luck he was right in that area,” said Bozicas. “Good policing is being in the right spot at the right time.”
The trooper was even able to recover the knife that the Defendants allegedly used during the robbery. The clerk in the store, by the way, was unharmed.
The Defendants are both from Fitchburg. One is 23 years of age and the other is 40. They face a number of charges, including armed robbery while masked.
Attorney Sam’s Take On Seemingly Hopeless Armed Robbery Cases
To be sure, if what authorities tell us is true, this is not going to be an easy case to defend. It is as close to being “caught in the act” as one can get without actually being…well…caught in the act.
However, as I have mentioned before, very few cases are absolutely lost causes.
“Sam, why wouldn’t the Defendants want to plead this one out?”
Well, there are a couple of reasons. First of all, despite how this, actually, one-sided fact scenario seems, the Defendants, or perhaps one of them, might not be guilty. Second, it is possible that they cannot get a deal which is palatable in a plea bargain.
“What does that mean?”
Well, let’s say they are not indicted and the case remains in district court. The largest criminal sentence the court can give them is two and one half years in the house of corrections on any one count. If the prosecution offers to agree to a sentence of two and one half years in a plea bargain, the Defendants might well prefer to try their luck at a jury trial in which, believe me, anything can happen.
Before we write off the Defendants’ prosecution as a “slam dunk”, though, there are a few questions that come to mind.
First of all, was there any surveillance video? Many such stores have them. If not, or if the response is “It did not work that day”, that could lead to issues of reasonable doubt. Second, of course, is where was the knife found and were there finger-prints on the knife.
Another question is whether these Defendants, if indeed robbers, were really foolish enough to go out to the street still wearing their masks.
“But the police say they were.”
Well, if you are one of my regular readers, or have experience in the criminal justice system, you know that you might not want to take that alleged observation at face value.
Defense counsel should also look into any record of when the call was made to the police. The robbers allegedly had just walked out of the store. The call was made and other officers (local police) were about to respond. Did this State Trooper also get the call? How did he know about the robbery?
In other words, experienced defense attorneys know that we have to go beyond the surface in these cases, not simply taking law enforcement’s word for how things took place.
The Defendants should be sure they have one of those. Well, actually, two of those.
For the original story upon which this blog is based, please go to http://www.boston.com/metrodesk/2013/03/26/state-police-arrest-two-men-about-feet-from-where-they-robbed-fitchburg-store-knifepoint/RoPhz04J3VkoLsDiSbBt3L/story.html