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Windham home invasion trial using DNA evidence

Union Leader Correspondent

January 14. 2014 9:31PM
Luis Carvalho, 33, of Taunton, Mass., listens to arguments during his trial Tuesday in Rockingham County Superior Court. (JAMES A. KIMBLE PHOTO)

BRENTWOOD — Prosecutors argued that a combination of DNA evidence, phone records and samples of home insulation found on the head of a Massachusetts man links him to a Windham home invasion that allegedly targeted a safe last April.

Luis Carvalho, 33, of Taunton, Mass. went on trial Tuesday in Rockingham County Superior Court for burglary and five other charges stemming from the April 15, 2012 break-in.

Carvalho’s alleged partner was never caught by police after a widespread search that included officers from at least three towns, a K-9 and a state police helicopter, according to court testimony.

Assistant County Attorney Patricia Conway said that 19-year-old Samantha Gervais was house sitting at her brother’s home on Lance Road when she was awoken about 12:30 a.m. by an SUV backing into the driveway.

Two men then began pounding on the front door, prompting Gervais to call 911, Conway said.

“She saw at least two men break into the house,” Conway said. “Both were wearing all black. They were wearing ski masks and do-rags. Samantha was terrified.”

Jurors listened to a recording of 911 call Gervais made to police as the men were breaking into the home.

While a dog barked in the background, Gervais can be heard saying, “Who is that? This is Samantha. What are you doing? What are you doing?”, before the line goes dead.

Windham patrolman Shane Mirisola, the first officer to arrive on the scene, testified that he could hear movement in the home the moment he stepped out of his patrol car.

“I could hear glass breaking. People were running around the house for sure,” Mirisola testified.

Carvalho was apprehended by police after he was found dressed in all black hiding under a tree in a wooded area, according to Conway.

While he was being booked, an officer found a piece of material in his hair that was similar to insulation inside the bedroom of the home where an open safe was located, Conway said.

His wallet containing his driver’s license, a cell phone and a loaded shotgun was found inside an SUV that the alleged burglars parked in the home’s driveway.

A DNA sample taken from Carvalho could not be excluded from one of the facemasks police later found, Conway said.

And phone records linked Carvalho’s number to a man who owned two firearms allegedly used during the break-in, according to prosecutors.

Public Defender Devens Hamlen argued that Gervais was lying to police about the men invading her home, and remained uncooperative with police as they continued to investigate the break-in.

She had refused to let police go through her brother’s home and failed to appear for a follow-up interview with investigators. Police later obtained a search warrant for the house.

Hamlen said jurors would hear about Gervais’ brother being arrested on drug charges.

“The state alluded to a lot of physical evidence,” Hamlen said. “They have the mask, the DNA, (but) there’s not one thing that can put Luis inside that house. There’s not one thing. The state is trying to ask you to convict someone on presumption and guesswork.”

Testimony is expected to continue on Wednesday.

Crime Windham