BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — DANVERS — A Salem District Court judge has found “clear and convincing” evidence that Marine recruiter Matthew Fairbanks repeatedly violated the terms of his release in a pending assault and battery and weapons case, including failing to surrender an AK-47 to police.
Because of that, Judge Robert Brennan concluded that Fairbanks “poses a substantial risk of danger to the community” and ordered that he now be held without bail until trial.
Fairbanks, 23, an Iraq War veteran whose family has said may be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, was living in the Endicott Greens apartment complex on Route 1 in January when police were called because of a disturbance in his apartment.
Fairbanks allegedly ripped a toilet out of a wall during the altercation with his 52-year-old father, and then used it to assault the older man, according to police. Officers subsequently found guns and other weapons in the apartment and in Fairbanks’ car.
While Fairbanks was legally licensed to own the weapons at the time, Brennan had ordered him to surrender all of his weapons to police as a condition of his release in the pending case.
Then, last month, police and probation officers learned that Fairbanks had posted a photo of himself on Facebook laughing and holding an AK-47 with a caption that said, “So then the judge says to me, he says, you will surrender all your firearms.”
Fairbanks’ attorney had argued at an earlier hearing that his client thought that turning the gun over to friends was the equivalent of surrendering them to police.
The judge did not agree, finding that Fairbanks “failed to surrender all firearms to appropriate authorities.”
Brennan, in his order detaining Fairbanks, also concluded that Fairbanks had left the state without permission for “unauthorized purposes” and had failed to report to a probation officer for a mental health evaluation, as the judge had also ordered.
Fairbanks, at his arraignment, had agreed to all of those conditions in lieu of being held on bail, according to court records.
Fairbanks’ attorney, Michael Walsh, who at 23 is believed to be the youngest person currently practicing law in Massachusetts, on Friday filed a series of motions seeking to suppress the guns seized from Fairbanks’ car, arguing that police had no legal justification to search the car and “were only able to obtain access after a show of force.”
Walsh also filed a motion to dismiss the case for lack of probable cause, and another one seeking a change of venue due to “significant and prejudicial pretrial publicity” that he said has already had a “devastating and widespread effect.”
At the time the motion was filed there had been two stories about Fairbanks in The Salem News.
A hearing on his motions is scheduled for May 14.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.