BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — BEVERLY — A Beverly man accused of donning a skull mask to hold up a convenience store on Cabot Street last year has been cleared following a trial.
The clerk at Tedeschi’s told police that he didn’t see the face of the man who shoved a gun at him and demanded cash, then complained when he got only $150 to $200 on the night of Oct. 19, 2011.
But he insisted that the robber was his former paperboy and a longtime regular customer at the Tedeschi’s named Joshua Machado.
The clerk told police he had seen Machado outside the store earlier in the evening, wearing similar clothing as the robber. And, he said, he recognized Machado’s “gait.”
But Machado’s lawyer argued that the clerk, and Beverly police, accused the wrong man.
And during a three-day trial in Salem Superior Court, that lawyer pointed to another man, one spotted about a mile away, also wearing the type of clothing, including track pants, that was described by the clerk.
Defense lawyer John Morris argued that police were too quick to rule out the other man as a suspect, suggesting that they simply took him at his word when he was questioned the following day about what he had been wearing around the time of the holdup. Morris said they never searched that other suspect’s own apartment, only his girlfriend’s, in an effort to find any other evidence.
They did search Machado’s apartment on Fossa Terrace, but found no evidence linking him to the crime, such as a mask or money, Morris said.
Prosecutors sought to convince jurors that while the other initial suspect had a record, it did not include robbery charges. But Morris argued that the other man’s record is replete with larcenous acts.
The jury deliberated for about an hour before finding Machado not guilty, on Dec. 6.
Machado spent about nine months in custody before he was released in June on $2,000 cash bail.
He had been facing a mandatory minimum five years in prison if convicted.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.