By BEA LEWIS, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — A jury deliberated for about 20 minutes on Tuesday before acquitting a Meredith man of receiving stolen property.
Chad Elliott, 38, was indicted in December 2015 and charged with receiving, retaining or disposing of stolen items valued at more than $1,500, including a dirt bike, home improvement equipment, power tools, hand tools, a tool box, a tankless hot water heater, a lawn mower and kayaks, after police found the items Oct. 7 in a storage unit Elliott had rented in Tilton.
While a Belknap County jury returned a not-guilty verdict against Elliott following a one-day trial, another man linked to multiple burglaries in Northfield by police confessed to dealing in stolen goods.
Kirk Stutes, 31, of Northfield pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property, the same items, in June. He was sentenced to 12 months in jail, but made eligible for work release. He was also ordered to pay $5,190.65 in restitution.
Upon release from jail, he was to undergo a substance abuse evaluation and all recommendations were to become specific rules of two years' probation.
Stutes was initially arrested by Tilton police in October 2015 on a warrant for theft by unauthorized taking. When the contents of his vehicle were inventoried prior to being towed, police found suspected drug paraphernalia. After obtaining a search warrant, they found methamphetamine and a cell phone.
When they reviewed the contents of the phone they found emails and photos of items believed to have been stolen and subsequently sold.
Police then obtained a search warrant for a basement storage unit at 161 E. Main St. in Tilton that Elliott had rented.
The photos on the cell phone included those of a Honda 125 cc motorcycle, pink and blue kayaks pictured together, a portable table saw with numerous other power tools stacked atop it, a top-loading washing machine and electric dryer, a Rinnai tankless water heater, and a green and red kayak.
A Facebook conversation between Stutes and another man in which includes a photo of the pink and blue kayaks read: "these are really nice kayaks best I've taken so far really like to sell them together as they are a matching pair."
Police ultimately linked the stolen items to burglaries that occurred in Northfield during August and September 2015 on Cottage Street, Park Street, Arch Street, Union Road and Sandogardy Pond Road.
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