Career criminal found guilty on 15 of 20 burglary, theft counts

Posted Aug. 17, 2011, at 2:29 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 17, 2011, at 6:39 p.m.
Randolph Garland
Courtesy of Hancock County Jail
Randolph Garland

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A Hancock County man with an extensive criminal history was found guilty Wednesday afternoon of 15 charges of burglary and theft.

Randolph W. Garland originally had been charged with 21 counts of burglary and theft in connection with a burglary spree in three Hancock County locales in late 2009 and early 2010.

Of those charges, one was dropped by prosecutors for lack of evidence just before the trial got under way Monday morning. On Wednesday morning, another four were dismissed by Justice Robert Murray, the trial judge, for lack of evidence.

Of the 16 charges that remained, Garland was found not guilty of one burglary charge while an associated charge of theft by unauthorized taking was amended to theft by receiving stolen property. Garland was found guilty of that receiving stolen property charge and 14 other burglary and theft charges.

Garland, whose trial got under way Monday, showed no emotion Wednesday as the jury’s verdict was announced.

Over the past two days, several owners of properties allegedly burglarized by Garland have testified in Hancock County Superior Court, as have two of Garland’s former roommates, who told the jury how Garland stole items and either sold them or brought them back to their shared apartment in Trenton.

The burglaries occurred in Brooksville, Sullivan and Township 10. Among the items Garland was accused of stealing are clocks, candlesticks, snowshoes, antique furniture, a cash register, a table saw, a weed trimmer, an antique cross-cut saw, an antique radio, paintings, a die-cast model of an antique motorcycle, binoculars, a wooden bowl, silver cups, copper piping and other items.

Some of the items later were found in Garland’s room of the Trenton apartment, while other items were recovered from an antique dealer in Hancock who, not knowing they were stolen, had bought them from Garland.

Garland did not testify in his own defense during the trial. He 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.

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.

According to law enforcement officials, Garland is believed to have spent approximately 18 of the past 20 years behind bars.

After the jury was dismissed Wednesday, Garland stood for a few minutes by the defense table in the courtroom, talking to defense attorney Hunter Tzovarras of Bangor about his case. As they drew to the close of their conversation Garland casually placed his hands on the table and, without turning to look, held out his right leg and then his left so corrections officers could attach leg shackles to his ankles for the walk back to jail.

Tzovarras said after the verdict that he thought there was not enough evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to convict his client of the most recent burglary charges. Brian Moody, a former roommate who testified that he dropped Garland off near two homes that were broken into, could not place Garland at five other properties that Garland was convicted of burglarizing, Tzovarras said.

But the jury inferred that because items stolen from the five other properties also turned up in Garland’s possession he was guilty of those burglaries as well, the defense attorney said.

“Obviously we’re disappointed the jury found Mr. Garland guilty of the burglaries,” Tzovarras said.

He said that Garland may appeal the verdict, but likely will wait until he is sentenced before deciding whether to do so. Garland’s sentencing is tentatively expected to be held in September, but a specific date has not been set, the attorney said.

The prosecutor in the case, Assistant Hancock County District Attorney William Entwisle, said he thought the jury came up with the appropriate verdict.

“I’m pleased with the outcome,” Entwisle said. “The victims’ voices were heard.”

On Wednesday morning, in his closing arguments, Tzovarras suggested to the jury that Moody may have been responsible for the burglaries and for the stolen items that turned up in the apartment he shared with Garland and elsewhere. All the places where police recovered stolen items after Garland was arrested were places Moody also had access to or had been, Tzovarras said.

Entwisle, in his closing arguments, told the jury that Garland kept very close tabs on Moody while they were living together for a few weeks in early 2010. Garland physically intimidated Moody and tried to maintain control over him by making Moody drive him around while they harvested clams or periwinkles.

Twice during such outings, Entwisle said, Garland had Moody pull over and wait while Garland got out near where burglaries later were discovered. On both occasions, Garland returned to the vehicle carrying items later identified as stolen but Garland never told Moody what he had been doing, the prosecutor said.

Garland was arrested March 12, 2010, after he got into an argument with another roommate, Erica Fletcher, over the way he acted and treated Moody. It was after Garland’s arrest that Moody, who is on probation, told police about the allegedly stolen items that Garland had been bringing back to the Trenton apartment.

Entwisle said that the reason Moody did not go to police earlier to report the burglaries was that Garland had once assaulted him by punching him in the face and that he was scared and dominated by Garland. When Garland and Fletcher argued, Entwisle said, Garland said he was moving out and taking Moody with him.

“‘And I’m taking Brian with me’ he said, like he’s a piece of property or a pet,” Entwisle told the jury. “I would encourage you to consider the facts.”

Six of the burglary charges Garland was convicted of on Wednesday are class B felonies, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000, according to Entwisle.

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