NEWPORT, VT - Co-defendants Christopher Lakin and Ty Morrison Jr. entered not guilty pleas at their arraignments in Newport on Oct. 18th. Both are being held on outstanding warrants and on bail of $50,000 each.
Lakin pleaded not guilty to four counts of burglary, possession of burglary tools, careless or negligent driving, driving on a suspended license, and attempting to elude a police officer. In related matters, Morrison plead innocent to four counts of burglary and one count of possession of burglary tools.
On Aug. 11, Trooper Christian Hunt and Trooper Owen Ballinger responded to three burglaries, one each in Brownington, West Charleston and Westmore. Among the items stolen were cash registers, cash drawers, DVDs, cigarettes and other items.
The first burglary reported was at Scampy's General Store in Charleston. Taken during that burglary were an ATM machine and cash from the ATM. A video captured two male subjects, one wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and another wearing a yellow hooded sweatshirt with a black covered oval on the back side. The suspects used a crowbar, which appeared to be yellow, to enter the store. The pry marks on the door to the store were about 1 inch in width. The ATM machine, later recovered, showed signs of being pried open with a yellow tool, which left some paint behind.
The same day, a burglary was reported at the Evansville Trading Post. Many items were stolen, including cash registers, cigarettes, DVDs and beer. The cash register cords were cut by a tool, leaving the wiring.
A few hours later, a complaint was received about an attempted burglary at the Robins Roost Store in Westmore. Entry was not gained. The pry marks on the windows were similar to those in the other burglaries.
On Aug. 15, following the report of numerous burglaries in Orleans County, state police were on patrol in the Brownington area when they received a call to be on the lookout for a small white car with a loud exhaust spinning its tires in a driveway. Trooper Debra Munson and Trooper Christian Hunt, riding together, observed a small, white, Volkswagon Jetta with unreadable Vermont plates and a hanging exhaust pipe parked, with its lights off, in the northbound lane of Church Hill Road. The police pulled in behind the vehicle and activated blue lights. The vehicle's headlights were turned on and the vehicle was quickly driven away.
Trooper Munson activated her siren and gave chase, reaching speeds around 60 miles per hour on wet, gravel and blacktop roads. Eventually, Munson lost track of the fleeing car. Trooper Rajeshvahid Hailey, in a separate vehicle, encountered the Jetta as well, on the Hinman Settler Road. Again, the Jetta accelerated and the police gave chase but then lost sight of the suspect vehicle.
The vehicle was later identified and located about 400 yards from the residence of Christopher Lakin in Brownington. Police knew that Lakin and Morrison, who was identified at one point as being a passenger in the Jetta, both had outstanding warrants for their arrest.
The following day, Aug. 16, police obtained and executed a search warrant for the Lakin residence. While there, they found numerous items which they believed to be stolen, including four or five black cash register drawers, a metal cash register casing, and multiple DVDs. Inside a closet, police found red-handled bolt cutters. Police found a gray, camouflage colored back pack that contained a yellow crowbar, a hammer, flashlights, gloves and a plastic toy gun, items police described as being consistent with a burglar tool bag.
They also found a large, red duffel bag containing many cartons of cigarettes, a gray, hooded sweatshirt and a Vermont State Police Warning issued to Ty Morrison.
On Aug. 19, after Lakin and Morrison were taken into custody on an outstanding warrant, Lakin reportedly admitted to driving the Jetta during the hot pursuit. Police report that Lakin's license is under suspension for failing to pay fines and for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
While in police custody, Lakin and Morrison reportedly admitted to breaking into the Evansville Trading Post, Scampy's Store, Westmore Fire Department and Highway Garage, and the Chronicle Newspaper.