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December 13, 2013

Paraplegic held without bail until dangerousness hearing

Police say illegal handguns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition recovered from Haverhill apartment

NEWBURYPORT — Keith Leavitt sat quietly and nearly motionless in a wheelchair that wasn’t his own. He leaned slightly to the left during court proceedings yesterday, his arms and shoulders covered in jackets to keep warm.

When asked to sign a court document, he appeared to struggle to raise his arms from his lap and hold them in a comfortable position long enough to write his signature.

Police allege that on Tuesday evening, Leavitt, 30, a paraplegic since a car accident four years ago, pointed a revolver at a woman’s minivan in the parking lot of his Haverhill apartment building at 1 Water St. and fired five or six rounds into it, shattering the rear window.

Police said the assault appeared to be the result of an argument over narcotics between him and a woman from Manchester, N.H.

Leavitt was arraigned yesterday in Newburyport District Court because the building is accessible to the handicapped and Haverhill District Court is not.

He is charged with two counts of possession of a firearm without a license, possession of ammunition without a license, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling and assault with intent to murder.

His defense lawyer, Michael Baldassarre of Salisbury, said Leavitt is the victim in this case.

Baldassarre said two women went to Leavitt’s apartment to steal his legally prescribed medications then made up a story to cover their actions. He said the women waited a day after the alleged shooting to notify police in Manchester, N.H., who then notified police in Haverhill.

“They say this was an argument over a cell phone yet they admit that they’re going there to get drugs,” Baldassarre said. “Every drug you heard mentioned was legally prescribed to this man who can hardly move... I hardly think that he was mobile enough to chase people out of his apartment, go down into a parking lot and start firing off guns.”

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