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May 9, 2013

Jury considers verdict in officer slashing

DANVERS — Someone was angry that morning two summers ago on Popes Lane in Danvers.

Prosecutors say it was Roy Limbaugh, the convicted Level 3 sex offender who had been dodging Danvers police detectives for weeks, until that morning, when, enraged by an early morning visit from Patrolman John Melto, he decided to ambush the officer, leaving him with life-threatening wounds to his throat, hand and arm.

Limbaugh, 59, who has represented himself during the trial, insists that it was Melto who was the angry one, and that he, not Melto, is the victim, first of a vendetta by the Danvers police detective in charge of keeping track of sex offenders, and then of Melto himself.

Now it’s up to the jury to decide. The panel deliberated for about 21/2 hours yesterday and will return to Salem Superior Court today to continue its work, deciding each of the seven counts against Limbaugh. The charges include attempted murder and failing to register as a sex offender, a subsequent offense that could send him to prison for at least five years.

Prosecutor Gerald Shea told jurors in his closing argument yesterday that everything that happened that morning, Aug. 19, 2011, was the result of “Mr. Limbaugh’s paranoia about his sex offender status and his attempts to avoid complying with the sex offender registry law.”

If Limbaugh had registered with police where he was actually spending his days working, at a Stoughton auto body shop, police wouldn’t have had to look for him regarding other warrants. Nor would they have had reason to suspect he might have moved away, as Detective Timothy Williamson feared after being unable to find Limbaugh during the day.

“That’s the point of the Sex Offender Registry Board,” Shea told jurors. “We need to know where they are.”

Instead, said the prosecutor, Limbaugh misled police, claiming that he was a self-employed delivery driver, a claim belied by the fact that the registration on his delivery truck had been canceled for lack of insurance, and his truck eventually towed.

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