A 22-year-old Everett man, Kevin Scott Anderson, was acquitted of burglary on Tuesday, but the familial aftershock of a trial that lasted only five hours may exist for many years.
Kevin Anderson was accused of entering the Roaring Spring home of an uncle, Scott Anderson, and his wife, Shanei Williams, on the afternoon of April 13, 2011, when he was 18 years old, and stealing a safe containing $20,000 worth of jewelry, family heirlooms, gold coins and Civil War memorabilia.
Items in the safe were part of the couple's savings for their retirement.
Problems for the prosecution arose because the man who accused Kevin Anderson of the burglary was his 30-year-old cousin, Christopher Anderson of Altoona, who has five previous convictions for theft and burglary and still faces five additional charges of theft.
Christopher testified during the trial that Kevin asked him to come to his uncle's home on April 13 to allegedly do some work around the house.
When he got there, Christopher said, Kevin used a key to open the door - the aunt and uncle were both at work - and asked him to help carry a 40-to-80-pound safe from the home. The weight of the safe was a point of dispute during the trial.
Christopher said he and Kevin took the safe to his Altoona home where it was opened. The jewelry and coins were sold, and, Christopher said, the safe was taken to a city recycling center.
He said he doesn't know what happened to other items from the safe, stating Kevin took the remainder of the contents with him.
On the witness stand, Kevin denied the charges, saying: "I had no involvement. I did not call him." He said he was at work with his Uncle Scott that day of the alleged burglary, which Scott denied.
Defense attorney Philip Masorti said Kevin was a young, hardworking man with no criminal record.
He consistently put his arm around his client during the trial and told the jury, "It is my privilege to represent this nice young man."
Masorti's position was that there were no fingerprints, no video, no evidence linking Kevin Anderson to the burglary aside from the story told by his much older cousin, who faces "decades" in jail because of his criminal activity and who, he said, dragged Kevin into the case as a way to gain favor with the district attorney, so that he will receive a lighter jail sentence if convicted of the remaining five cases against him.
"What we really have is an experienced thief [Christopher] who was on a crime spree," Masorti argued.
He said Christopher has been charged with thefts that occurred in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
The aunt and uncle, who both testified, said they avoided naming Kevin as a suspect in the burglary after they discovered the safe was missing.
But, they testified, all of the evidence pointed toward Kevin, not Christopher. Kevin had a key and access to their home. Scott Anderson had a close relationship with Kevin after Kevin's father died.
Assistant District Attorney Russell Montgomery urged the jury to use "common sense." He said it was Kevin, not Christopher, who had access to the uncle's home and knew the schedules of the uncle and aunt.
The thief left many valuables behind and went straight for the safe. Only Kevin, not Christopher, knew about the safe, Montgomery argued. The jury took only 40 minutes to find Kevin Anderson not guilty of burglary, conspiracy, receiving stolen property, theft and criminal trespass.
When the trial ended, feelings were taut. An argument broke out between family members, and Judge Daniel J. Milliron asked that the victims of the burglary leave the courtroom while other family members on Kevin's side remained in the courtroom.
Kevin, who is a welder and soon will be trained in commercial diving in Florida, said the verdict lifted a great weight from his back.
Asked if the family rift can be healed, Kevin said there was no chance of the family being close again.
Mastorti said, "The family dissension is insurmountable."
Christopher Anderson is in the county prison awaiting disposition of his remaining cases.