Lamoine man found guilty in safe robbery

Posted Aug. 22, 2008, at 9:26 p.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — After nearly six hours of deliberation, a Hancock County jury found a Lamoine man guilty Friday of stealing a safe containing an estimated $40,000 in cash from his grandmother in January 2005.

Steven Robbins, 39, was convicted of robbery, burglary, assault, theft and obstructing the report of a crime in a trial that began in Hancock Superior Court on Monday.

The jury found Robbins not guilty on another count of theft and kidnapping.

He is being held in Hancock County Jail without bail until his sentencing hearing.

Robbins’ wife, Juanita Mullins, 36, of Lamoine, was acquitted of the same charges Thursday by Justice Kevin Cuddy.

Robbins left Connecticut, his home at the time, and drove to Lamoine on a Friday night. He and another suspect then broke into his grandmother’s home in the early morning of Jan. 22, 2005, put a pillowcase over her head, handcuffed her, tied her legs together with a telephone cord and demanded to know where the safe was and its combination.

“I thought I was going to die,” said the victim, who was 74 years old at the time of the crime, when she testified on Tuesday.

Robbins then drove back to Massachusetts by 9 o’clock the next morning.

The safe was never recovered.

Police believed Mullins was the other person involved in the robbery, but after her acquittal Hancock County Deputy District Attorney Carletta Bassano, prosecutor for the case, said the investigation is ongoing.

Robbins’ attorney, Theodore Fletcher of Southwest Harbor, declined to comment Friday but made a motion to acquit his client of all charges Wednesday.

There were “a lot of missing pieces” to the state’s case against his client, he said Wednesday, claiming the prosecution had no evidence putting his client in Lamoine the night the robbery occurred.

The prosecution showed that Robbins had information about the burglary that no one else did. Robbins knew the burglars let his grandmother sit up in bed and use her oxygen tank during the robbery. Robbins told an acquaintance he was glad the robbers eventually had shown relative kindness to his grandmother before his grandmother remembered the event or talked to anyone about that aspect of the crime.

“That was a very valuable piece of evidence in the context of the situation,” said Bassano in a phone interview Friday.

Bassano also presented evidence that included debit card information that put Robbins purchasing gas in Kittery on the night preceding the crime and phone records indicating he was in western Massachusetts the next morning.

The prosecution also showed that Robbins spent thousands of dollars in cash within days of the robbery, buying puppies, a truck and a $1,400 engagement ring.

More than 700 pages of discovery evidence and a tainted jury pool in May delayed the trying of the case until now.

“It’s great to have the case finally resolved,” said Bassano.

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