WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – The case against three young men who are accused of armed and masked robbery was presented to a Hampden Superior Court grand jury recently and the jury returned a true bill leading to their indictment in that court and dismissal of their charges in Westfield District Court.
The robbery at the root of the men’s predicament occurred Dec. 15 at the Stop and Go convenience store on Mill Street. On that Sunday, city police report that, starting at 1:50 p.m., multiple callers started to report an incident and, at 1:53 p.m., the store clerk called to report he had been robbed at gunpoint by three male parties who stole about $150. One witness reported she saw two male parties, one of whom was wearing a hooded sweatshirt backwards and had apparently cut eye-holes in the hood, run from the store to a car waiting on Harrison Street which immediately drove toward Court or East Silver street.
The fugitives didn’t even get out of the city before they were spotted and stopped. Officer Joseph Maxton spotted the suspect vehicle on East Main Street and followed the green Honda Civic until the operator stopped at a red light at the Little River Road intersection. There Maxton, considering that the victim had reported that he had been menaced with a gun, used his cruiser’s public address system to order the four occupants of the vehicle to put their hands on the roof of the car. The suspects did not comply and, when the light turned green, the operator started to drive over the national guard bridges. After traveling a short distance on to the bridge, the car came to an abrupt stop and the front seat passenger jumped out of the vehicle. Disregarding Maxton’s order to stop, the suspect, later identified as Matthew A. Cyr, 29, of 44 River St., Agawam, vaulted the wall and fled underneath the bridge. Maxton secured the vehicle and kept the remaining three suspects in the car until, moments later, additional officers arrived.
A hooded sweatshirt with eyeholes cut in the hood was found to have fallen from the vehicle and a handgun had been seen in plain sight on the floor of the backseat. The pistol was found to be a BB gun. Cyr managed to wade and swim across the river but soon found himself under the gun of Officer Steven Nacewicz in a corn field and surrendered.
Also taken into custody were Scott A. Peabody, 26, of 108 Lawton St., Springfield, Timothy J. Lynch, 29, of 88 Harby Road, West Springfield, and Thomas F. Cliche, 19, of 68 Montgomery St., Indian Orchard. All four were charged with armed and masked robbery and conspiracy. In addition, Peabody, as the operator of the car, was charged with motor vehicle violations and Cyr was charged with resisting arrest. Cliche was found to be the subject of a warrant issued by Springfield District Court.
The investigation of the robbery established that Peabody had parked the Honda on Harrison Street and Lynch had entered alone. After he returned to the car, Peabody and Cyr, one of whom was wearing a hooded sweatshirt backwards and looking through eyeholes cut into the hood, went in and performed the actual robbery. The store clerk told police that the two men had entered the store and pointed a gun at him, demanding money and cigarettes before they fled with about $100 and several packs of cigarettes. At the time of the robbery, Det. Sgt. Steven K. Dickinson, said that Cliche may not have been a knowing participant and said that he, the youngest of the suspects, may have thought he was going on a “blunt ride” to buy marijuana.
At a December 20 bail hearing. Cliche’s attorney, Bruce Green, said that his client had not known what was planned and said “my client was sleeping in the back of the car.” Apparently the prosecuting assistant district attorneys also had significant doubts about the case against Cliche and the charges against him were not prosecuted. Lynche’s attorney, Colin Keefe, raised similar doubts about his client at the same hearing saying that his client has no record, “has never been in trouble with the law” and had been duped by Cyr into going inside the store to check to see if any customers were present. He said that he and Cliche had been in the backseat of the car were “simply going along for the ride” and “were in the wrong place at the wrong time.” “They thought they were going to get marijuana,” he said.
Assistant District Attorney Mary Partyka told the judge at the hearing, Philip A. Contant, that the other participants have considerable records. She called Peabody’s record, which she said includes charges of assault and battery, possession of a Class E drug, malicious damage and protective order violations “substantial” but said that Cyr’s record is “very extensive.” Partyka said that his record started when he was charged with larceny as a 12-year-old juvenile and said that he served a 5-7 year prison term for a previous armed and masked robbery. She that his record “goes on and on” and he was recently released from a nine-month sentence which had been imposed for assault and battery and threatening to commit a crime.
The three suspects will face trial in Hampden Superior court where considerable stiffer sentences may be imposed than in district court where the maximum sentence available to judges is two-and-a-half years incarceration in a house of correction. In superior court there is no similar restriction. Chapter 265, Section 17. of the Massachusetts General Laws provides that a person convicted of armed and masked robbery “shall, for the first offence be sentenced to imprisonment for not less than five years and for any subsequent offence for not less than ten years.”
Media Credit: The Westfield News