PITTSFIELD -- "Give me all your money."
With those words, Shane Hamilton -- an admitted heroin addict -- allegedly began his armed robbery of a Lanesborough couple just after noon on Wednesday after jumping in the back seat of their car.
During Hamilton's arraignment on Thursday, prosecutors detailed the brazen daytime robbery of the couple, both 73, outside the Price Chopper supermarket in Pittsfield.
According to statements the couple made to police, Hamilton, 24, of Dalton, entered through the rear passenger door after they had put their groceries in the trunk and were preparing to drive off.
He was wearing sunglasses, a cap pulled low and had the hood of his sweatshirt over his head in an attempt to obscure his identity.
After he demanded money, the man answered that they didn't have any, according to the police report.
Hamilton then pulled out a knife and put it to the woman's throat. "I'm going to kill her. I know you have money," the couple recalled Hamilton saying.
The woman pulled out two $5 bills, but Hamilton demanded more. The woman gave him all she had, somewhere between $70 and $100 in cash, but he still wanted more, ordering them to give him their credit cards and jewelry.
That's when the husband began honking his car horn to try to attract attention and Hamilton jumped out of the car, ran across the parking lot to a Hyundai Sante Fe and drove off, the report said. The husband was able to get the license plate number, which his wife wrote down on the back of their grocery receipt.
They then went into the store and called police.
Pittsfield and Dalton police were able to track down the vehicle and arrested Hamilton at his mother's Renee Drive residence in Dalton a little more than 30 minutes later.
After his arrest, Hamilton allegedly admitted he had committed the crime and that he had been using heroin for more than a year. The knife, sunglasses and other evidence was collected from the home during a later search warrant execution, said police.
Hamilton, appearing with his attorney, Ryan D. Smith, pleaded not guilty in Central Berkshire District Court on Thursday to felony charges of armed robbery while masked and armed breaking and entering into a vehicle in the daytime, putting someone in fear. He was also arraigned on a warrant charging him with larceny over $250 for allegedly stealing tools from the Sears store in Lanesborough.
Smith told the court his client had no record. Smith said Hamilton would have shown up on the larceny charge but that the summons was sent to an old address and that his client wasn't aware that a warrant had issued in the case.
The lawyer said the armed robbery allegations were "out of character for this young man" and that there were discrepancies between the description of the perpetrator and his client, including a height difference. Judge Paul Vrabel pointed out that, at least according to the police, Hamilton had admitted to the crime.
Smith said that the alleged statements in the police probable cause report seemed more like denials rather than admissions. He asked that bail be set at $5,000 cash or surety.
First Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Paul J. Caccaviello said Hamilton made further statements to police that weren't in the report. The defendant admitted being the robber, the prosecutor said.
Caccaviello asked for $250,000 cash or surety bail. He admitted that although Hamilton had no record, he was facing serious charges that carry a minimum mandatory state prison sentence and also cited the fact the defendant was wanted on a warrant.
Vrabel questioned why the DA's office wasn't asking for a dangerousness hearing in the case. He said he had sat on two dangerousness hearings recently in which the facts were "analogous" to this case.
"Don't the facts speak for themselves?" asked the judge.
The prosecutor said they had decided to ask for a high bail instead.
Judges aren't allowed to initiate dangerousness hearings. They must be brought by the DA's office. If found dangerous, a person can be held without bail for 60 days, after that time bail can be set in a case.
Vrabel ordered Hamilton held at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction on $75,000 cash or $750,000 surety.
The case will be heading to the grand jury, according to the prosecutor. Hamilton was due back in court April 11.
"There's no question it's a serious case," said the judge when setting bail.
To reach Andrew Amelinckx:
or (413) 496-6249.
On Twitter: @BE_TheAmelinckx