State looks to combine burglary, stolen property cases involving brothers and Mystic jeweler
The state is seeking to consolidate the court cases of two brothers accused of carrying out a series of burglaries in the Lyme-Old Lyme area and a Mystic jeweler charged with possession of nearly $200,000 in stolen jewelry and antiques.
Senior Assistant State's Attorney David J. Smith filed a motion to consolidate the cases of Karl W. Weissinger, Justin P. Weissinger and Matthew L. Hopkins last week prior to the scheduled start of jury selection in the case of Karl Weissinger.
Should Judge Barbara Bailey Jongbloed grant the motion, the three men would be tried together. Jongbloed postponed jury selection, ordered attorneys to submit briefs and scheduled arguments for June 25. Smith contends that each case requires proof of the same set of facts by the same witnesses. In trying them together, "no substantial injustice will result to any of the defendants," he said. Attorneys for the three men are expected to object.
Karl Weissinger, 23, of Lyme and his older brother, Justin, 27, are accused of entering six unoccupied homes in Lyme and Old Lyme in late 2011 and early 2012 and stealing high quality jewelry, precious metals and antiques.
Hopkins, 41, of Westerly, the owner of Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Co. jewelry store at 9 W. Main St., Mystic, said the brothers came to his store 15 to 25 times and sold him items they said they purchased by bidding on abandoned storage units. Hopkins turned over many of the stolen items to state police and admitted he sold some pieces to refineries for their melt value. He opened up the store after hours to burglary victims who identified some of their stolen possessions.
A few victims have attended dozens of the men's court appearances and have written letters to the court seeking the return of their property, which remains in police custody.
Smith in September asked the three men, through their attorneys, to stipulate to using pictures of the stolen goods as evidence so that the property could be returned. Justin Weissinger - through his attorney, John E. Franckling - agreed. Hopkins, represented by attorney Michael L. Cozzolino, also agreed. Karl Weissinger and his attorney, Jeremiah Donovan, have not agreed. Donovan recently filed a motion seeking the court's permission to let his client to inspect the property.
Karl Weissinger, who is charged with multiple counts of burglary, larceny and conspiracy, is free on $200,000 in bonds and is being monitored electronically by the Department of Adult Probation. In January, he turned down an offer to plead guilty in exchange for up to eight years in prison.
Justin Weissinger is being held in lieu of $550,100 bonds at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution. In addition to the Lyme and Old Lyme burglaries, he also is charged with burglaries in Chester, East Haddam and Salem, and with a high speed chase with Montville Police in July 2012 that led to the burglary charges. After the chase, police said, Weissinger had in his possession a .380-caliber pistol that had been stolen from a Salem home and other stolen items.
Two days later, state police searched a barn in Lyme, on the Brush Hill Road, belonging to attorney William T. Koch, who said he had given Weissinger, his girlfriend's son, use of the barn. Troopers said they found guns there that had been stolen during burglaries in East Haddam and Salem. The probe led Trooper Gary Inglis to the Mystic jewelry store where he saw Karl Weissinger attempting to sell two stolen watches and a gold chain, according to the court documents.
Hopkins is free on a $250,000 bond. State police charged him with first-degree larceny and Groton town police charged him with operating without a precious metals license.