PLYMOUTH– On Thursday, April 14, Sean P. Sullivan, 25, of Boston was finally arraigned at Plymouth District Court, Plymouth, the Commonwealth’s fourth attempt to hold the proceeding. A plea of “not guilty” was entered on his behalf by the court, and Marshfield-based defense attorney Michael Bergeron, who has been appointed by the court to represent Sullivan, who claimed to be indigent. The case will remain in the District Court, according to officials, who chose not to move the case into Superior Court, where charges and penalties are greater.
Sullivan gained notoriety in Plympton following a dramatic incident in which he left the Brook Retreat, a “sober-living” facility at 55 Brook Street where he had been a guest, and allegedly caused property damage and attempted to gain entry into a neighbor’s home on March 6, around 11:45 p.m. causing an uproar in town over the safety of residents and the safeguards at the group-home, located in a residential neighborhood.
Sullivan, seemed confused when led from lock-up into the courtroom by a court officer, and was expressionless. He did not appear to have supporters in the courtroom.
Sporting a buzz-cut and an orange Plymouth County Correctional Facility (PCCF) issued jumpsuit, he did seem to know where he was, though, according to his attorney, he was earlier begging to be returned to Bridgewater for mental health treatment rather than returned to PCCF, where he had previously stayed for a brief time prior to the arraignment hearing.
Sullivan was being held for a “15B” forensic psychiatric evaluation at Bridgewater State Hospital (BSH), a secure mental health facility run by the state Department of Corrections at the Bridgewater Correctional Complex, Bridgewater, to determine his “criminal responsibility” (CR) and his “competency to stand trial” (CST). According to public court records, there was at least one period of time where he was on “suicide watch” at BSH.
Visiting Judge Mary Amrhein presided over the proceedings.
Assistant District Attorney (ADA) Sarah Onori represented the Commonwealth. She argued that because the state’s psychiatrist(s) ruled that Sullivan was competent to stand trial, he could be arraigned, although the ADA asked the judge to allow a motion to amend the most serious charge, felony home invasion, to a lesser felony, “Breaking and Entering in the daytime or at night, for felony, armed, firearm, person in fear,” codified under M.G.L. c. 266 s. 17, according to the Plymouth District Court Criminal Clerk’s office. It should be noted that Plympton Police allege Sullivan was armed with an icepick, not a firearm, although this is the wording that the Commonwealth uses to summarize the law.
The statute reads: “Whoever, in the night time, enters without breaking, or breaks and enters in the day time, a building, ship, vessel, or vehicle, with intent to commit a felony, the owner or any other person lawfully therein being put in fear, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than ten years. Whoever commits any offense described in this section while armed with a firearm, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or assault weapon shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not less than seven years or in the house of correction for not less than two years nor more than two and one half years.”
The judge allowed the motion to amend the charges– which vacates the original felony home invasion charge and replaces it with the above charge.
Judge Amrhein next heard the subject of Sullivan’s bail in the current Plympton case and in an ongoing case at Chelsea District Court, where he faces charges of shoplifting and possession of a Class E substance. An ADA from the Chelsea District Court had previously filed a motion with the Plymouth District Court asking a Plymouth judge to revoke bail in the Chelsea matter.
ADA Onori noted that Sullivan has an eight-page long criminal record, had several warrants out for him when arrested, multiple past arrests and convictions for larceny and forgery-type crimes, and drug arrests and convictions for possession of class A, B, C, D and E substances. She suggested that there were other offenses and convictions as well.
Defense counsel Bergeron stressed that his client, Sullivan, was severely mentally ill and that he was, “very apologetic for the situation.” Bergeron stated that this was a very sad circumstance, and that his client had not only been diagnosed with major depression, anxiety disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after time living on the streets homeless and suffering from addiction, but was also in fact experiencing auditory and visual hallucinations, which he said was supported by the Commonwealth’s forensic reports.
He also noted that although the Commonwealth had determined Sullivan competent to stand trial, they came just short of declaring him not criminally responsible, leaving it to the Court to make that call.
Judge Amrhein set bail in the present case at $10,000 cash/$100,000 bond and revoked his bail in the Chelsea District Court case, automatically triggering a 90-day jail sentence for Sullivan for violating the bail conditions set in Chelsea.
Arguing that his client needed further treatment at Bridgewater State Hospital, Bergeron asked the judge to remand Sullivan back into the custody of BSH.
Judge Amrhein did not allow Bergeron’s petition for Sullivan to be sent back to the hospital saying, “I’m sure if his medical needs warrant it, that’s where he’ll [Sullivan] end up.”
With that, court officers led Sullivan back to the lock-up in Plymouth District Court. While being removed from the courtroom, Sullivan politely mumbled, “Thank you, your honor.”
The alleged victims, Dean and Marsha Limitone, of Brook Street, waited patiently in the courtroom the entire day for a hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. but that did not occur until well after 3 p.m. Speaking with the Express after the proceedings, they expressed their disappointment with the outcome, especially the District. Attorney’s office’s decision to downgrade the most serious charge of felony home invasion.
Despite an official from the D.A.’s office telling them that this was in fact a “good” outcome, they stated that they are still living in fear, and that their only comfort at the moment was that Sullivan would be “locked-up” for at least 90-days.
“After that, we’ll have to see what happens,” said Marsha Limitone. “I don’t think people understand the terror we are still living with every day.”
Sunday night, March 6, Shane Sullivan was located shortly after the Limitone’s called the Plympton Police reporting an individual causing property damage to their shed and attempting to break into their home with a weapon. According to the police narrative, Sullivan was making bizarre statements while being apprehended, such as, “I killed Satan,” and, “I killed that whole family,” when he was found wandering barefoot shortly after the call.