Pittsfield man cleared in string of Lenox break-ins


PITTSFIELD -- A city man was found not guilty on Thursday of committing a string of break-ins of Lenox businesses in a single night in February.

Timothy W. Welch, 45, of Union Street, wiped away tears as the jury returned the verdict of not guilty on five charges related to the break-ins of three downtown Lenox businesses that included a coffee shop, a dentist's office and a sandwich shop. There were seven businesses that had been broken into or had been the scene of an attempted break-in on the night of Feb. 19, but the charges against Welch were limited to three.

The jury of eight women and four men in Berkshire Superior Court deliberated for about an hour on Thursday before returning the not guilty verdicts on breaking and entering and larceny from a building charges following a two-day trial.

According to Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Daniel Hespeler, on the night of Feb. 19, Welch showed up at a Lenox bar near where the break-ins had taken place soaking wet. After getting thrown out for allegedly pestering customers by trying to buy cigarettes, he took a cab back to Pittsfield and stopped off at a convenience store to purchase cigarettes. The prosecutor said the denominations of the cash Welch used to pay for the beer, the ride and the cigarettes matched what was taken from two of the businesses hit that night.

During a search of the defendant's home, the clothes he had been wearing had recently been washed and dried, but small pieces of glass were found in the pockets of his coat and sweatpants.

According to the Lenox Police, whoever had broken in had smashed the windows of the businesses to gain entry.

Welch's attorney, Richard D. LeBlanc, told the jury during his final summation that the prosecution was asking them to guess about much of the case since there was no real evidence against his client. He said the police didn't make any comparisons between what was found in Welch's pockets and the glass found at the scene and that a boot print found near one of the break-ins was estimated at a size 10, when his client wears an 11 1/2 sized shoe.

LeBlanc argued that his client's clothes were not cut or sliced up, something you might expect if Welch he had been crawling through broken glass to gain entry into the buildings.

Additionally, when asked to go speak with police, Welch complied with the request, said LeBlanc.

"That's consistent with innocence," he said.

Of the cash Welch had on him that night, the attorney pointed out "it's not a crime to have money in your pocket."

Welch had originally been charged with 12 crimes, but before trial the DA's Office dismissed four counts of attempt to commit a crime and three counts of malicious destruction or property.

After the prosecution finished its case, Judge Mary-Lou Rup allowed a defense motion to reduce the charges on two counts of breaking and entering in the nighttime to the lesser included offense of breaking and entering in the daytime for a felony.

Welch had been free on personal recognizance and walked out of the courtroom Thursday a free man.

There is a possibility the DA's Office might be seeking to bring other charges against Welch, according to what Hespeler told the court.

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