Victim unable to verify identity of night-time intruders
By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — The defendant in a city burglary trial took the stand Tuesday in his own defense and told the jury he never went into the victim's house.
Michael Regan, 32, testified that he went to the home at 51 Emerald St. in Laconia on Aug. 23, 2015, around 1 a.m. with two other men, one of whom professed to him to be a nephew of the victim.
Regan is being tried for one count of burglary in the night time. The state, through Belknap County Prosecutor Adam Wood, alleges he entered an home occupied by a lone widow as she slept in an attempt to steal things from her house.
The victim woke to noise and said she saw two men in the office across the hall from her. She testified she told police one of them was dark-skinned but she didn't see any faces because one of them shined a flashlight in her face. She called the police and both men fled.
He said he was friends with one of them, Kevin Gobeil, and didn't know the second one, whose name he said was Marcus.
Regan said Marcus told him there would be air conditioning and television there, something Regan didn't have, so he agreed to go because he trusted Gobeil.
Gobeil pleaded guilty to burglary in the nighttime at the home and was sentenced to 2 to 4 years in prison.
Regan said Marcus is Dominican and black, which fits the description of one of the two men the victim said were in her house.
He told the jury that they were behind the house because Marcus had to get a key to his aunt's home. Regan said it was dark, so he was fishing through his backpack to get a cell phone for some light when he heard glass breaking.
He said he panicked and ran from the area, losing his shoe and falling into the woods, where he hit his head on a rock and lay unconscious in a muddy ravine. He said he only came to when police and a K-9 found him and helped him to the street.
On Monday, evidence was introduced that Regan had a cut on his head, but first responders from the Laconia Fire Department said the cut was superficial. Regan testified that he felt it was more serious than that.
On Tuesday morning, Sgt. Robert Cameron testified that the footprint found in the dirt under the victim's back deck near the window where the burglars got in matches the pattern on the sneaker found by police about 200 feet away. Regan was wearing an identical sneaker to the one that was found by police when he was located.
Cameron explained that the flash from the camera made the photograph of the sneaker print almost unreadable, but that based on his own observations of it with a flashlight, it was a match to the three zigzags on the bottom of Regan's shoe.
The jury also heard recordings made from the Belknap County House of Corrections in which Regan could be heard apologizing to his mother and saying "Do you think I wanted to do this?"
During a snippet of a second call with another person, Regan said he never went into the house – a statement dismissed by Wood as self-serving because he knew the line was tapped.
In his closing arguments, defense attorney Ted Barnes pointed out discrepancies in the five Laconia officers' testimony, including how one officer kept calling Regan by the name of Gobeil during his testimony.
Barnes said the police didn't do a complete investigation. After learning two men were in the house and after they found two men they stopped looking, despite being told by the victim that one of the men was dark-skinned or black.
Barnes said that Regan is a "red-headed Irishman" and that "They don't get any whiter" than him. Gobeil is also white.
In his closing, Wood told the jury to consider all of the pieces of the puzzle and how they add up to one reasonable conclusion and that is that Regan was inside the home with Gobeil.
He told the jury the two men were found within 17 feet of each other and within 200 feet of the house. He said two police officers testified that they were only minutes away and the two men weren't going to make it far considering the response time.
He said Regan "fled so fast he lost his shoe."
Wood told the jury that the first time he had heard of "Marcus" was during Regan's testimony.
The jury began deliberations at 3 p.m. Tuesday and will continue deliberating Wednesday morning.