ATTLEBORO — A Brockton resident charged in a string of armed robberies at grocery stores in North Attleboro and other communities was described by a prosecutor Tuesday as a man “completely out of control.”
Assistant District Attorney Kendall Poirier gave that assessment during a dangerousness hearing in Attleboro District Court for Justin W. O’Connell, 36.
He was deemed a danger and ordered held without bail for up to 120 days.
O’Connell is charged with wielding a knife as he robbed the Stop & Shop on Route 1 in North Attleboro on Nov. 12 and the Shaw’s supermarket at Tri-Boro Plaza in North Attleboro.
His girlfriend, Valerie Proulx, 41, also of Brockton, also faces armed robbery charges for being the alleged getaway driver in the crimes. Her dangerousness hearing was postponed to Thursday.
During O’Connell’s hearing, Poirier said the defendant confessed to the crimes and others in Bellingham and North Providence allegedly to support a drug habit.
According to the prosecutor, police learned during their investigation that O’Connell is also suspected of robberies in Bedford and Woburn.
Poirier said O’Connell has a 19-page criminal record of similar crimes and was once charged under the youthful offender as a juvenile for assault with intent to rob.
O’Connell served five years in prison for robbing a bank after passing a note to the teller demanding money. Now, Poirier said, the defendant has “upped and ante” by using a knife.
“I would suggest that the defendant is completely out of control,” Poirier said.
In addition to serving jail time for violating probation, O’Connell has 12 restraining orders against him taken out by multiple individuals and has served jail time for violating restraining orders, Poirier said.
The robbery at Stop & Shop, Poirier said, occurred hours after a robbery of a CVS in North Providence.
“The defendant is a danger,” he said. “He’s a danger to the community.”
O’Connell lawyer, Jason Maloney of Attleboro, argued that his client could be released on less restrictive measures such as home confinement with a GPS monitor.
Maloney said his client is the father of two children and lives with his parents. He said his client’s asthma also makes him more susceptible to contracting the coronavirus in jail.
O’Connell’s case was continued to Dec. 15 for a probable cause hearing.
Proulx’s lawyer withdrew from the case because of a conflict and the hearing was postponed to Thursday to allow her new lawyer time to prepare.