AYER — A Shirley man was arraigned Feb. 3 in Ayer District Court on charges of unarmed robbery, aggravated assault and battery, and attempted murder. Blake Morris, 20, was one of two arrested in New Hampshire for their alleged involvement in an Ayer drug deal gone bad.
Nicolas Schirmer, 20, of Milford, N.H., was arraigned on Jan. 30 after waiving extradition to face identical charges. The incident allegedly occurred on the afternoon of Jan. 25 in the parking lot of the Hannaford Supermarket on Fitchburg Road in Ayer.
Morris was arrested at his mother’s home in Chester, N.H., though he otherwise lives with his father in Shirley, according to Morris’ court-appointed attorney, Kevin Davis of Andover.
Morris and Schirmer admit to being in the same got in the car with the named victim, Elijah Burns. All three told police that they were on hand for purchase of marijuana.
All three agree that violence broke out in Burns’ car. But the stories diverge when it comes to who instigated the aggression.
Assistant Middlesex County District Attorney Allison Brown said Morris climbed into the back seat of Burns’ car while Schirmer slid into the front passenger seat. Brown said the terms of the drug deal were $75 for the sale of a quarter ounce of marijuana.
Brown said Morris suddenly started strangling Brown from the back seat while Schirmer rifled through Burns’ pants pockets, robbing Burns of $980.
The prosecutor said Burns “began to pass out and lose consciousness.” Morris and Schirmer reportedly fled.
When police arrived, Burns complained of extreme pain in his neck area and began vomiting blood. Burns was transported to Nashoba Valley Medical Center.
At his alleged cohort’s arraignment, the prosecutor said Burns identified Morris from a photo array shown to him at the hospital. Ayer Police Detectives Andrew Kularski and Kellie Barhight conducted the investigation which led to the dual arrests.
Davis said Morris was a graduate of Nashua North High School and was employed as an auto mechanic in Shirley until a month ago. Davis said Burns’ allegations “may be an exaggeration of what in fact did occur.”
Davis suggested that Burns may have been the aggressor in the incident, adding that Burns has “been in some trouble himself in the past.” Davis also said Burns had been “sending threatening messages to my client before this occurred.”
Davis sought Morris’ release on $500 bail and requested special permission for Morris to live with his mother in New Hampshire until his next court date. Davis said that while Morris has no Massachusetts record, Morris does face “a couple open cases” on misdemeanor charges in New Hampshire.
Davis said Morris “wants to face the music in this case” and has no history of defaults.
Brown said Morris did flee from Massachusetts and was ultimately arrested on a fugitive from justice charge in New Hampshire.
Judge Debra Shopteese set bail for Morris at $7,500 cash or $75,000 surety bond. The two return to court on Feb. 29.
Last Monday, Schirmer’s bail was set at $2,000 cash (or $20,000 surety).