LIVE SHOT | Retrial for retired captain begins in Berkeley County
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The second trial for a former captain with the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department began in circuit court Tuesday afternoon.
Dennis Streets was found not guilty of fraudulent scheming last April, but the jury was hung on an embezzlement charge.
That charge alleges Streets stole 13 guns out of the sheriff’s department’s evidence room, and sold them to a local gun shop, Glockcop, LLC.
At the time of the alleged crimes, Streets was in charge of the evidence room, and had free reign and access. The sheriff’s department worked frequently with Glockcop to turn over guns in closed cases, in exchange for store credit.
According to court records, Streets took some of those guns, and sold them for cash.
An investigation into the missing weapons began almost three years ago, after the sheriff’s office was notified by an Alcohol Firearms & Tobacco (ATF) agent that a gun used in a felony crime was traced back to the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office.
The gun they were searching for was supposed to be locked in the evidence room.
The case eventually took ATF agents to Hagerstown, but the call prompted the sheriff’s department to do a thorough investigation of their evidence room, and that’s when officials noticed weapons were missing.
About 70 jurors were pooled for the second trial; almost double the amount of jurors called for the first trial.
In opening statements, assistant prosecutor Tim Helman told the jury "extreme financial stress can cause nice people to do unthinkable things."
Streets was allegedly carrying a $38,000 debt at the time the guns were reportedly sold off. Helman told the jury that during the trial he hopes to prove Streets sold the guns to help pay off some of this debt.
However, in opening statements from Streets’ defense attorney, Craig Manford, he told the jury that the 13 guns his client allegedly sold didn’t even make up a tenth of his debt.
Manford said that it “didn’t make sense” for a captain with over 30 years of experience in law enforcement to do something that “could so easily be traced back to him.”
In the first trial, defense argued that Streets accidentally sold the guns in question. Streets allegedly inherited over 25 guns from his father’s estate, and mixed up some of his personal weapons with guns out of the evidence room.
Manford told the jury that while the “case looks good on paper”, a lack of paper trails and hard evidence would show that Streets was not guilty of embezzlement.
Helman called forth his first witness Monday afternoon: Clifford Vinson, the owner of Glockcop, LLC. The trial is expected to continue tomorrow, and begin with defense’s cross-examination of Vinson. Sheriff Kenny Lemaster is also expected to testify on Wednesday.