SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

November 17, 2012

Lawyer facing charges in mall parking dispute

BY JULIE MANGANIS
STAFF WRITER

---- — DANVERS — A crowded mall parking lot, an impatient driver waiting for a spot, and a gun proved to be a bad combination on Sunday afternoon.

A Lynn attorney is facing charges that he pointed a handgun and a can of Mace at a Beverly man in the parking lot of the Liberty Tree Mall, after the man complained that the lawyer’s wife was taking too long to pull out of a space he wanted.

But a lawyer for attorney Richard Connors, 60, of Lynn, says it’s his client who is the real victim in the case.

The incident was touched off when a 30-year-old Beverly man spotted a woman, Connors’ wife, getting into a BMW in the area near the Loews movie theater.

The man later admitted to police that he was getting impatient at the amount of time it was taking for her to pull out, prosecutor Lindsey Legier told a Salem District Court judge yesterday.

When he expressed that to the woman, she yelled back that he should go find another space if he didn’t want to wait.

The man told police that suddenly a man, later identified as Connors, was at his door. He acknowledged to police that the two men “had words,” and that he opened his door. Connors slammed the door shut.

Carl Goodman, the defense lawyer for Connors, said it was the victim who first mentioned having a gun (though he never displayed it) and who opened the door to his vehicle.

“The victim was the aggressor,” said Goodman. “He’s not a victim.”

The man told police he then saw Connors pointing a handgun and Mace at him, according to the prosecutor. “He was in fear for his life,” said Legier, reading from a Danvers police report.

But Goodman responded by pointing out that if the alleged victim was in such fear, it didn’t stop him from getting out of his vehicle to stand behind the BMW, according to the police report.

Legier said the victim wanted to get the license plate number.

Judge Robert Brennan was skeptical. “If you take his account, that he literally had a gun put in his face, it seems to be somewhat unusual for him to then stand behind the car to take down the plate,” the judge said, suggesting he could have stayed in his own vehicle as he wrote it down.

Goodman also argued that his client, at 60, is an “upstanding citizen” with no prior criminal record, while the victim has a record dating to his teenage years, including charges of assault and battery and malicious destruction.

But Legier suggested that the younger man’s background makes him all the more credible, since he knew when he immediately called 911 and then went to the police station that officers would see his record, yet he went anyway.

Police said they called Connors’ wife, the registered owner of the BMW, that day. She told them she was busy making dinner. They suggested she and Connors come to the station to explain their side, but when they never appeared, police got an arrest warrant.

Connors was arrested on Thursday and released on bail. But when he appeared in court yesterday, prosecutors moved to have him held without bail as a danger to the public.

Connors spent about two hours in custody yesterday before Brennan ruled that he could be released on conditions that include surrendering his license to carry firearms and any guns and ammunition he owns and that he stay away from the alleged victim in the case.

A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Jan. 11.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.