SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

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January 18, 2013

Two men cleared in storage thefts

(Continued)

But because he potentially could incriminate himself if he took the stand, Politano didn’t testify at Smith and McDermott’s trial.

That left prosecutors with surveillance video showing three men inside the facility on the night of the thefts, all wearing gloves and with hooded sweatshirts pulled up over their faces, and earlier images of three men on the day Politano was renting the storage locker.

Prosecutor Lee Hiromoto, a third-year Harvard Law student interning at the district attorney’s office, urged jurors to look carefully as one of the hooded men briefly removed his hood, revealing his prominent ears. Look at the way the men in the two videos have similar gaits, he urged the jury.

Salem police Detective Dennis Gaudet told jurors yesterday that he’d known Smith for 10 years and immediately recognized his protruding ears, as well as his jutting chin and his walk; he leads with his neck, Gaudet testified.

The jury watched the videos on Wednesday afternoon and yesterday morning, along with the judge.

Then Brennan watched portions of the video from the night of the burglary again, after defense lawyers Peter Fogg, representing Smith, and Heidi Shore, representing McDermott, filed motions arguing that the prosecution hadn’t proved its case.

Brennan, unable to recognize the suspects on the video himself, agreed.

“No rational trier of fact could identify the suspects from this video,” Brennan concluded, finding the pair not guilty.

The jury that had been hearing the case since Wednesday afternoon was sent home, as was McDermott. Smith, who is facing separate drug charges, remains in custody.

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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