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August 15, 2013

Court throws out guilty verdict in Haverhill home invasion

Mistake by court officers leads to new trial for man convicted of Haverhill robbery

HAVERHILL — In 2007, Yubar Perez, then 22, of Worcester, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after he was convicted by a Lawrence Superior Court jury of breaking into a Park Street home, pointing a gun at a man and his 13-year-old son and stealing $23,000 in cash.

On the second day of Perez’s trial, his mother and older sister went to the courthouse and attempted to enter the courtroom during jury selection. They were denied entry, however, by a court officer who told them to take a seat in the hallway — a practice that until recent years was common at the Lawrence courthouse due to space limitations and as a matter of convenience and comfort for jurors and the public.

After Perez was sentenced, the trial judge, Howard Whitedhead, ruled that Perez’ Constitutional right to a public trial was violated because his relatives were not allowed into the courtroom.

An Aug. 8 ruling by state Appeals Court affirmed Whitehead’s decision to throw out the 2007 conviction and grant Perez a new trial on home invasion and armed robbery charges.

Stephen O’Connell, a spokesman for the Essex District Attorney’s Office, said Perez is currently in prison and that prosecutors “anticipate filing a request for further appellate review” of the case by the state Supreme Judicial Court. O’Connell declined further comment.

According to court papers, Perez was one of three men charged in connection with the Aug. 9, 2004 home invasion. The papers said Perez held a gun on the man and his son, while another man ran into the father’s bedroom and stole a briefcase containing the cash, which was from an insurance settlement.

Court paperwork said the victim was planning to buy an auto parts business with the money. Perez and the other men had learned about the cash from the victim’s daughter.

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