MIDDLETON — A pair of North Shore men have been charged with breaking into a Middleton man’s shed and vehicles, then slashing him with a knife when he caught up with them near his home early yesterday.
Lawyers for William Decotis, 27, of 35 Hampshire Road, Peabody, and Trevor Collins, 22, of Lynn say that police have the wrong guys.
Decotis and Collins pleaded not guilty during their arraignment yesterday in Salem District Court to several counts each of breaking and entering, as well as charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
Middleton police were called shortly after 3 a.m. for a report of a burglary on Sgt. Roode Lane. The homeowner told police he’d heard the door to his truck being opened and closed and went to investigate.
By the time police arrived, the owner was actually down the street, where he’d confronted Decotis and Collins at a stop sign.
The homeowner, 49, told police he saw his toolboxes in the back of the Buick and reached in to grab the keys, when he was cut by what doctors later said was a knife. He then pulled several toolboxes out of the Buick, which sped away. The homeowner jumped into his wife’s car and followed the Buick down Route 62 toward Peabody.
Officers in that city saw the car in front of Decotis’ home on Hampshire Road and noticed that the hood was still warm, despite the 12-degree temperature outside.
Decotis and Collins were arrested.
Lawyer Rebecca Whitehill, who represents Collins, argued that Middleton police found no evidence linking the car to the burglary, such as items from the break or blood from the homeowner’s cut hand.
She and Decotis’ lawyer, Leslie Salter, also questioned discrepancies between the description given initially by the homeowner and their clients, and pointed out that police never had the homeowner formally identify either suspect, though all three were at the police station at the same time.