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October 25, 2011

'Town'-style holdup suspect challenges search

SALEM — The lawyer for a parolee charged with two armed robberies grilled the suspect's parole officer yesterday about exactly when, or even if, he ever told Raymond Wallace that he had imposed a 10 p.m. curfew — a curfew that was cited as a justification for arresting Wallace and then searching his car and apartment.

Wallace, 34, is charged with last December's holdup at the now-closed Borders Books and Music in Peabody and with a nearly identical robbery at the PetSmart on Highland Avenue in Salem in March.

In both cases, Wallace allegedly wore a rubber mask similar to the one worn by characters in the movie "The Town" and forced employees back into the store as they were closing for the night.

In both cases, prosecutors allege, Wallace drove the getaway vehicle to a secluded area off Swampscott Road in Salem and set it ablaze.

During a hearing yesterday before Salem Superior Court Judge David Lowy, Salem police Detective Kevin St. Pierre and Patrolman Robert Cunningham testified about how Wallace, on parole for a Waltham burglary and weapons charges, had come onto their radar and how on the night of the PetSmart holdup, they staked out his apartment at Courageous Court.

When he returned, Cunningham testified, Wallace got out of his car and then pulled a bulletproof vest off, over his head, as Cunningham watched from a doorway.

Simply seeing Wallace taking off the body armor, prosecutor A.J. Camelio suggested, was enough probable cause to detain Wallace.

But police also alerted Wallace's parole officer, Tim Barry, who immediately sought a warrant alleging that Wallace had just violated his parole.

On the stand yesterday, Wallace's lawyer, Ray Buso, pressed Barry on just when he'd imposed the curfew.

Parole officers are allowed to impose up to a 30-day curfew without authorization from the Parole Board, something Barry had done in January after learning Wallace was found in a Danvers neighborhood at 3 a.m.

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