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January 17, 2013

Trial starts for two in thefts at Salem storage warehouse

SALEM — The trial of two of the three Salem men charged last spring with breaking into dozens of self-storage lockers at a Salem warehouse got under way yesterday, with both prosecutors and defense lawyers urging a Salem District Court jury to use “common sense.”

Curtis McDermott, 20, of 21 Harbor St. and Justin Smith, 24, of 21 Essex St. are facing charges that include breaking and entering, larceny from a building, and possessing burglarious tools, all stemming from the thefts on April 23 and into the early morning of April 24 at Public Storage on Goodhue Street.

A third suspect, Michael Politano Jr., 30, also of Salem, is set to stand trial at a later date.

Prosecutor Lee Hiromoto told the jury in an opening statement that they would be shown videos taken five days before the thefts, showing the three men entering the facility and moving items, that time not wearing masks or gloves.

They would then get to see the surveillance videos from the night of the thefts, showing men with similar builds and gaits arriving in the same truck (owned by Politano) and moving items out of the facility. Those items included a bicycle, a drum set, a grill and boxes.

McDermott’s lawyer, Heidi Shore, told jurors that she doesn’t dispute that McDermott was there five days before the thefts, but said there’s no way anyone can prove that he was there the night the items were taken.

“He’s not identifiable in that video because he wasn’t there,” Shore said.

Peter Fogg, who represents Smith, told jurors that his client is Politano’s brother-in-law and that the two had been there earlier to move Politano’s belongings into storage because he was being evicted. He denied that Smith was anywhere near the storage facility the night of the thefts.

The trial is expected to continue today.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.

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