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Suspect in area robbery spree is held on $100,000 bail.

Byline: Gary V. Murray

WORCESTER -- A Merrick Street man charged with a string of robberies in five area communities pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Thursday in Worcester Superior Court.

Cortez Palmer, 38, of 68 Merrick St., was indicted March 20 on two counts of armed robbery, six counts of unarmed robbery and a single count of assault and battery, all as a habitual criminal. The charges stem from robberies that occurred from September through November in Worcester, Oxford, Auburn, Shrewsbury and Millbury.

Under the state's habitual criminal law, a person accused of a felony who has previously been twice convicted of a crime and sentenced to at least three years in prison must receive the maximum allowable sentence if found guilty of the new charge.

The maximum penalty for robbery is a life sentence with a possibility of parole in 15 years.

According to the indictments, Mr. Palmer had previous convictions for robbery and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon that led to state prison sentences of 3 years or more.

Accompanied by his lawyer, Tom G. Vukmirovits, Mr. Palmer entered not-guilty pleas at Thursday's arraignment. At the request of Assistant District Attorney Alexei C. Garick, Judge William F. Sullivan set $100,000 cash bail without prejudice, which will allow Mr. Vukmirovits to seek a bail reduction for his client at a later date.

The judge continued Mr. Palmer's case to June 10.

Mr. Palmer was arrested Nov. 10 in Worcester as a result of a joint investigation by area police departments.

The armed robbery charges against him stem from holdups that occurred Sept. 30 at the Dunkin' Donuts on Ward Street and Nov. 8 at the Walmart store in North Oxford. The Oxford robbery netted $8,681 and was believed to have been committed with a pellet gun bought earlier in the day at the store, according to investigators and court records.

Mr. Palmer also stands accused of committing unarmed robberies Sept. 24 at the Shaw's supermarket on Stafford Street; Oct. 23 at the Shaw's supermarket in Auburn; Oct. 26 at the Shaw's supermarket in Shrewsbury; Oct. 30 at the Price Chopper on Cambridge Street; Nov. 8 at the Target store at The Shoppes at Blackstone Valley in Millbury and Nov. 9 at the Walmart on Tobias Boland Way.

Mr. Palmer had two co-defendants when his case was pending in Central District Court, Molly K. McKeen, 25, and Serena E. Lammi, 30, both of 6 Knox St. Each was charged with a single count of unarmed robbery.

The grand jury that returned the indictments against Mr. Palmer last month found insufficient evidence to indict the two women and returned no bills in their cases, according to Paul R. Jarvey, a spokesman for District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. The charges that were pending against Ms. McKeen and Ms. Lammi in Central District Court have been dismissed, Mr. Jarvey said.

Contact Gary V. Murray at Follow him on Twitter @GaryMurrayTG

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Title Annotation:Local
Author:Murray, Gary V.
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 3, 2015
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