First defendant admits role in Giblee's coat theft

·5 min read

Jan. 21—DANVERS — The first defendant in a local case that became a flashpoint in the debate over change in the state's criminal justice system admitted to her role in the crime Thursday.

Lynasja Trimble, 22, of Mattapan, pleaded guilty in Salem Superior Court to multiple counts of unarmed robbery, assault and battery on a person 60 or older and attempting to commit a crime.

The charges arise out of a flash mob style robbery at Giblee's, an upscale men's clothing store on Route 114 in Danvers, back in December 2019.

The incident, which ended in a struggle over the pricey Canada Goose parkas the group had been trying to grab, became a national story after the store's frustrated owner released surveillance video to the media.

But under a sentence he acknowledged last month would likely leave some — including an elderly Giblee's salesman who lost two teeth and still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder — unhappy, Judge Salim Tabit decided to continue the case without a finding for two years.

If Trimble stays out of trouble and complies with several conditions set by the judge, the charges will be dismissed, sparing her a record of a conviction.

Among those conditions: That she find a book on the challenges of starting and running a small business, and prepare a three- to five-page book report on any insights she gains.

It's a similar requirement the four others charged in the case would have to fulfill if they opt to accept the sentences Tabit first proposed during a hearing last month in Lawrence Superior Court.

"I don't want them to think I haven't considered them in my sentencing consideration," Tabit said during that hearing last month. He acknowledged that to some, "these sentences may not seem harsh enough."

But Tabit said he is considering "all of the factors" of sentencing, which not only includes punishment and deterrence but rehabilitation and public safety.

Trimble is attending college while also caring for her newborn and working two jobs, her lawyer told the judge. A conviction and jail term would affect her ability to hold a job and stay in college.

Even before the sentencing conferences with the judge in September and December, lawyer Chris Norris said Trimble has been performing community service, which the judge later incorporated as part of her sentence.

Trimble's sentence also includes an alternative sentence of a year in jail if she violates any of her probation conditions.

Both the continuation without a finding and the alternative sentence are more typically used in district courts.

During the Dec. 2 hearing, Tabit openly questioned why the district attorney's office chose to seek indictments that could have sent the five defendants to prison.

"Frankly, I'm greatly troubled by this case," Tabit said in the hearing, a recording of which was obtained by The Salem News on Thursday following Trimble's sentencing.

In that recording, Tabit said the five were not armed, and in his view hadn't intended to engage in any violence.

"Exposing these defendants to lengthy state prison sentences is unwarranted," Tabit said during the hearing last month. He went on to suggest that if the district attorney's office wanted to request jail terms instead of prison, as they have subsequently done, they could have left the case in Salem District Court.

He went on to suggest that the district attorney's office may have been trying to send a message at a time when other prosecutors had sought to reduce or eliminate prosecutions for similar crimes.

The judge did find that a year of jail time, but not prison, would be appropriate for two of the others charged, Adriana James, of Jamaica Plain, who was the oldest of the group, with a prior record of violence, larceny, and probation violations since her teenage years, and Bryon Vaughn, of Dorchester, who was 23 and also had a criminal history at the time.

Mekeda McKenzie, 20, believed to be the leader of the group, tapping her head as she entered the store to signal the others, has been offered a suspended 18-month jail term and two years of probation.

James and McKenzie are also charged with another theft of Canada Goose parkas from the store several days prior to the confrontation that turned violent.

The judge has offered a continuation without a finding to Kashawnii Ruomo-O'Brien, 21, of Mattapan, who, like Trimble, is in college and is also the mother and primary caretaker of a young child.

The four would also be required to perform 80 hours of community service, write letters of apology to the victims, and complete the same sort of book report Trimble has agreed to write. Their attorneys are due in court Jan. 28 to let the judge know whether any of them will accept the sentences or seek to go to trial.

Trimble's attorney, Norris, said outside court Thursday that he and his client were "thankful" for the opportunity to avoid a record of conviction.

"We are grateful Judge Tabit listened to us and took the time to think carefully about this and impose a just sentence," Norris said.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis