Travis Viera acquitted in alleged break-in

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Travis Viera was found not guilty by a judge on Tuesday. _ Rich Saltzberg

Travis Viera was found not guilty Tuesday in Edgartown District Court on four charges stemming from a 2020 case where he and three other individuals were alleged to have participated in a house robbery. 

Judge Benjamin Barnes found Viera not guilty on charges of felony breaking and entering at night, larceny from a building, assault with a dangerous weapon, and threat to commit a crime, following a bench trial. Judge Barnes did not offer an oral explanation for his ruling, but amid closing arguments, he said there “appears to be a lot of holes” in the commonwealth’s case.

Defense attorney Robert Nolan’s primary arguments were that key witnesses failed to identify his client or place him at the crime scene, and that no witness identified an allegedly stolen game console as theirs and the same one that was allegedly taken. Among other discrepancies, Nolan argued witness accounts about what his client wore differed. 

Cape and Islands Assistant District Attorney Matt Palazzolo countered that the descriptions of the defendant were sufficient. Palazzolo argued that no weapon need be evident to meet the threshold for an assault with a dangerous weapon charge — only that somebody be in fear for their safety. Palazzolo said that a mother did fear for her safety. No weapon was presented as evidence in court, nor does it appear a weapon was recovered by police, however descriptions were given of the defendant having his hands in his sweatshirt pockets while allegedly making deadly threats. Viera had previously been charged with armed robbery, but that charge was reduced to assault with a dangerous weapon. Palazzolo told the court the mother clearly identified the alleged getaway car, a blue Subaru. 

The case stemmed from a March 2020 incident when Robert McLaughlin of Oak Bluffs, Matthew Medeiros of Vineyard Haven, Travis Viera of Edgartown, and Ryan Fisher of Oak Bluffs allegedly drove to the Scott’s Grove affordable housing development and participated in a house robbery that included allegedly threatening to kill a mother inside her home. In November 2020, charges against McLaughlin were thrown out. Palazzolo contended it was Viera and Medeiros who actually entered the house and threatened the mother. The four allegedly fled the scene after a PlayStation was stolen, and were chased into a driveway by Edgartown Police later on. 

The mother, her son, her neighbor, two police sergeants, and a police officer testified at the trial. The case was slated for a jury trial, but shortly after court commenced, Nolan informed the court it would be a bench trial instead. Viera did not take the stand. 

Reached outside the courthouse after the trial, Nolan echoed arguments he made in the courtroom when he was asked for comment: “There was no identification by anyone as to who the individuals were, and without that, you know, they don’t have the evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt,” Nolan said. “So it was a fair verdict.”