Accused robber asks for dismissal due to long-delayed trials

Ray Wallace during a previous court appearance.Julie Manganis/Staff photo

SALEM — An Essex County prosecutor told a judge on Tuesday that he’s willing to consider taking part in a possible “global” plea agreement to resolve all charges against a former Salem man left disabled when he was shot in 2013 during an alleged escape attempt. 

The development comes as Raymond Wallace and his attorney are attempting to convince a Suffolk Superior Court judge to dismiss charges stemming from that shooting.

Wallace, now 43, was being held in two armed and masked holdups, one in 2010 in Peabody and the other in 2011 in Salem, in which he ordered store employees at gunpoint to open safes. Police subsequently found a cache of weapons and body armor at the Salem condo he was renting. At the time he was on probation in a robbery and shooting at a Waltham business. 

While in custody he suffered an eye injury and was being taken to a hospital for evaluation. Prosecutors say he used a smuggled handcuff key to get out of his restraints, got hold of a deputy sheriff’s gun and shot him, but was then shot by another deputy. 

Wallace is, his attorney argued in a court filing last month, “the person who suffered most severely” as a result of the incident, which left him with severe internal injuries. 

Lawyer David Grimaldi is asking that the charges stemming from the escape attempt and shooting at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary be dismissed on the grounds that Wallace’s ongoing detention in the case without any prospects of going to trial amounts to a violation of his due process rights. 

“The ceaseless prosecution of Mr. Wallace after nearly eight years of a medical inability to try him can only cause further anxiety and harm to his mental state,” Grimaldi wrote in his motion. 

Grimaldi argued that a 2018 Supreme Judicial Court ruling supports his request. That ruling upholds dismissal of a case against a mentally incompetent defendant who was charged with murdering his father in 1994. 

Grimaldi also argued that under state law, a person deemed incompetent to stand trial can ask the court to dismiss the charges if they’ve been awaiting trial for at least half the maximum sentence they would face. 

Suffolk County prosecutors opposed the motion, arguing that the 2018 case is “completely dissimilar” because it involved mental incompetence, not the physical inability to stand trial that Wallace has been arguing — and that a Suffolk judge found in 2016. 

During the hearing on Grimaldi’s motion, in an apparent effort to support their argument, prosecutors submitted a series of videos they say show Wallace exercising in his room at the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital, where he’s spent most of the past eight years. 

Grimaldi has filed a motion asking Judge Janet Sanders not to consider the videos on the grounds that they were obtained without a warrant and, he suggested, edited in a misleading way, noting discrepancies in time stamps and other irregularities. 

Suffolk prosecutors also argued that the law allowing for a case to be dismissed early applies to cases of mental incompetence. They suggested that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are now ways to accommodate Wallace’s medical needs by holding the trial remotely or in a hospital. 

But during a hearing on Tuesday in the Essex County cases, prosecutor A.J. Camelio said he’s been told of an effort by his counterparts in Suffolk County to resolve all of the cases. He asked for a delay in the long-pending case so that he could discuss that further with them. 

A judge scheduled a tentative hearing for a possible plea in the case for Aug. 17. 

Wallace was last in the headlines a year ago when he initially convinced a Suffolk County judge to release him due to the pandemic and his having contracted the virus. An Essex County judge, however, denied the same request, suggesting it was just an effort to avoid standing trial. Wallace remains held at the Shattuck Hospital prison wing. 

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

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