LIVE SHOT | Retired captain testifies in his own 'stolen guns' trial
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A retired captain with the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department testified in his own trial Thursday.
Dennis Streets was charged with embezzlement, after an internal investigation alleges he stole guns from the sheriff's department's evidence room, and sold them for cash.
While a jury found him not guilty of an additional charge of fraudulent scheming last April, they were hung on the embezzlement charge. A mistrial was declared, a second trial was rescheduled, and formally began on Tuesday.
Neither prosecution or defense disputed that guns from the sheriff's department’s evidence room ended up at a local gun shop, Glockcop, LLC., but the dispute is over how the guns got there.
Streets testified that because he was in charge of the evidence room, along with his responsibilities of keeping track of the Special Response Team weapons, he was surrounded by guns while at work.
Streets also testified that his office was “organized chaos”, and was littered with paperwork, overflowing evidence that didn’t fit in the already crowded and outdated evidence room, gun lockers and an unknown number of guns.
He told the jury, when he wanted to sell 25 guns he had inherited from his father's estate, he first brought them to the department to run their serial numbers, to make sure they weren't stolen.
Streets testified that the mix up happened then.
Streets told the jury that he is “not a gun enthusiast”, and because some of the guns looked so similar, he mistakenly took department guns to Glockcop, because he thought they were apart of his father’s collection. (The sheriff’s department routinely worked with Glockcop to exchange weapons they were unable to use for store credit to buy things like ammunition or other department needed supplies.)
However, as prosecution pointed out, according to court documents, Streets took department issued guns into Glockcop twice: once in July 2011, and then again one year later.
Prosecution argued Streets sold the guns to help him get out of over $38,000 in debt.
In his testimony, Streets however said the 13 guns he allegedly stole weren't worth even a tenth of the money he owed.
Streets told the jury debt started to build up after his wife, who was the primary breadwinner of the home, had to leave her job because of medical reasons.
Streets testified he and his wife later decided to “give up the home” after they were unable to sell it due to the 2008 housing market crash.
According to his testimony, additional debt began to build after they broke their lease on several rental properties and amassed some unpaid medical bills.
Streets told the jury he got a second job doing security “just so [his family] could eat.”
Friday morning both prosecution and defense are expected to make their closing arguments.