ELLSWORTH, Maine — The trial of a Trenton man accused of burglarizing several homes in Hancock County in early 2010 got under way Monday morning in Hancock County Superior Court.
Randolph W. Garland, 46, is facing 21 counts of burglary and theft in connection with a string of crimes in February and March of 2010 at homes in Brooklin, Brooksville, Sullivan and Township 10.
Copper wiring and piping were taken from at least three of the homes, police have said. In an affidavit filed in court, police indicate that Garland also is accused of having stolen paintings, pictures, two chairs and a wooden sea chest from a home in Brooksville. Some of the items reportedly were recovered by police from Garland’s Trenton apartment.
In his opening argument, Hunter Tzovarras, Garland’s attorney, told the jury that there are a lot of holes in the state’s case against his client. He said that some of the burglaries were not committed until after Garland was known to have sold copper in the Bangor area, and that prosecution witnesses in the case provided inconsistent statements to police during the investigation.
“You’re going to see that a lot of the pieces of the puzzle do not fit,” Tzovarras told the jury of nine men and five women, which includes two alternates.
Tzovarras said after testimony concluded Monday that he is not sure if his client will testify in his own defense.
Garland has an extensive criminal record dating back to 1982 that includes multiple convictions for assault, burglary, theft, criminal trespass, criminal mischief, escape and other crimes, including a conviction in 2003 for assaulting a corrections officer at Hancock County Jail.
The prosecutor in the case, Assistant Hancock County District Attorney William Entwisle, said he told the jury that several of the stolen items later were recovered in Garland’s apartment in Trenton, which he was sharing with other people. He also told the jury that the state has a witness who will testify that he dropped Garland off at some of the properties where burglaries later were discovered.
Brian Moody, who lived in Trenton with Garland at the time of the burglaries, testified Monday afternoon. Moody said that more than once he accompanied Garland on trips to Bangor or other Maine towns to sell things that Garland allegedly stole, including copper and antiques. Among the items Garland allegedly stole and brought back to the apartment they shared were antique furniture, a weed trimmer, a table saw and a cash register, Moody told the jury.
Moody said Garland got Moody to drive him around to places by using verbal and physical intimidation. Once, Moody said, he forgot to set an alarm to wake him and Garland up so they could go gather periwinkles, and Garland became so angry he punched Moody in the face.
The jury heard testimony Monday morning from owners and caretakers of properties that were burglarized while they were vacant for the winter. The witnesses generally described how they found out the properties had been burglarized and what was taken.
One Township 10 man told the jury that clocks, candlesticks and binoculars were taken from his seasonal home off Route 182. A woman who was staying intermittently in a garage apartment on his property discovered the burglaries, he said.
The property owner told the jury that a grandfather clock worth $5,000 that had been stolen from his house had been destroyed.
“We found pieces of it in the driveway,” he said.
Garland is estimated to have spent approximately 18 of the past 20 years behind bars for various offenses, according to law enforcement officials.
In 1988, Garland escaped from the old Hancock County Jail by kicking out a recessed window in his cell and squeezing himself through the 10-inch gap, according to police and published reports. He stripped naked, threw his clothes through the opening, and then smeared his body with butter packets he had saved up from his jail meals so he could slide through the narrow opening.
Garland’s freedom was short-lived, however. He was tracked down by police within a few hours in downtown Ellsworth and taken back into custody.
Garland’s trial is likely to conclude Wednesday morning, according to attorneys involved in the case.