EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 27, 2013

Local man held without bail, charged in home invasion

By Mike LaBella
mlabella@eagletribune.com

---- — HAVERHILL — The lawyer for a Haverhill man claims that his client was home at the time police allege he took part in a masked home invasion in Lawrence. The lawyer says the only evidence presented by witnesses was that they claimed to have recognized his voice and that the evidence against his client is scant.

Todd Muir, 27, of 12 Blaisdell St., Apt. 2, Haverhill, was ordered held without bail March 19 by Lawrence District Court Judge Kevin Gaffney, who determined he was a danger to society. Muir was previously held without bail at his arraignment March 11 on charges of home invasion, assault with a dangerous weapon and carrying a firearm without a license.

Muir is charged with taking part in a March 8 home invasion on Melrose Street in Lawrence. The victims told police they were able to identify him as one of the two masked intruders who robbed them of $4,000 in cash after recognizing his voice as a family acquaintance who visited their house frequently. Police requested that The Eagle-Tribune not release the victims’ names for their protection. Police subsequently obtained an arrest warrant for Muir, 27, who was arrested later at his Haverhill apartment by state and Haverhill police.

At Muir’s dangerousness hearing last week, his defense lawyer, Thomas Torrisi of Methuen argued for Muir to be released pending his next court appearance, while Assistant District Attorney Kelleen Forlizzi argued for Muir to be held without bail as a danger to society.

Torrisi said Muir’s alleged victim and two teenage girls who were in the house at the of the home invasion testified at the request of the state. Torrisi said he called Officer Angel Lopez as a witness.

“There was a significant amount of inconsistencies in the testimony, which I felt was sufficient to cast some doubt on whether it was Mr. Muir who committed this crime,” Torrisi said. “This was a voice identification only.”

“The individuals who went into the house were supposedly masked,” Torrisi added . “My client denies he was the one who was involved.”

A 49-year-old woman told police she was watching television in her living room shortly after 1 a.m. when she heard a knock at the front door. She thought it was a friend. But when she opened the door, she saw two masked men dressed in black, she told police.

“She tried closing the door but her wrist was slapped out of the doorway by the end (butt) of the gun,” Officer Angel Lopez wrote in his report. “The door was then forcefully pushed open and the two masked men rushed into the apartment.”

Once inside, the man with the gun hit the woman on the head with gun several times and threatened to kill her if she didn’t give them the money, the woman told police.

“The male with the gun forced her upstairs and she led them to the bathroom closet and handed them the pouch containing approximately $4,000 in cash,” Lopez wrote in his report. An ambulance took the woman to Lawrence General Hospital for treatment of her injuries.

Police are seeking at least one other suspect in the home invasion, according to Lawrence police Chief John Romero.

In August 2008, Todd Muir and his brother Justin Muir were charged in Haverhill with assault and battery and assault with a dangerous weapon. The two brothers were arrested on their way to court for their mother’s hearing in connection with a fight that left a woman in critical condition at a Boston hospital.

The charges against Todd and Justin Muir were subsequently dropped at the request of the Essex District Attorney’s Office.

Torrisi said the current charges against Muir are “extremely serious” and that it is possible he may be indicted by a grand jury.

Torrisi said that members of Muir’s family, including his parents and his brother were in the courtroom during last week’s hearing.

Carrie Kimball-Monahan, spokeswoman for Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, said a probable cause hearing for Muir is scheduled for April 18.