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Boston Police officer charged after explosives found

Estranged wife reported items at Plymouth home

Kirk Merricks pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of illegal possession of explosives, including four grenades.

Debee Tlumacki for the Boston Globe

Kirk Merricks pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of illegal possession of explosives, including four grenades.

PLYMOUTH — Boston police Officer Kirk D. Merricks is facing charges of illegal possession of explosives, including four grenades, after Plymouth police said they found the devices in the home he formerly shared with his now-estranged wife.

Merricks, 42, appeared in Plymouth District Court, where he was released on $1,000 cash bail after pleading not guilty Friday to 11 explosives possession charges, along with four counts of receiving stolen property and one count of possession of ammunition.

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During the arraignment, Assistant District Attorney Matt Ghiloni said it is “unclear where he obtained these military quality explosives.”

Plymouth Police Chief Michael Botieri said his officers are trying to track the history of the munitions, but said detectives believe they were stolen because they are military grade and not publicly available.

“They are obviously not anything that civilians should possess,’’ Botieri said. “We believe it’s all stolen. It’s not something you can go out and buy without the correct permits.’’

Merricks’s lawyer, Eric Goldman, said in court that there was no evidence linking the explosives to his client and suggested they may belong to the son of his estranged wife.

The son recently returned from a military tour of duty.

“There is nothing linking him [Merricks] to these explosives; they just as easily could be the son’s,” he said.

Boston police put Merricks on paid administrative leave and seized his handgun and badge before he was taken into custody by Plymouth police, said Cheryl Fiandaca, department spokeswoman.

Merricks, who arrived at court wearing a suit with cowboy boots and a black cowboy hat and accompanied by an unidentified woman, has worked for the Boston Police Department for 14 years.

He has also served in Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield during the first Gulf War in Iraq, Goldman said.

According to an incident report filed in court, Robin Merricks contacted police on Thursday afternoon after she found what she feared were explosives in parts of the house and in a shed at the couple’s home on Paddington Way.

The State Police Bomb Squad and Plymouth police searched the property and discovered the devices, which included the four high-explosive grenades, explosive detonation cords, blasting caps, and TNT canisters, according to court filings.

There was also about 150 rounds of ammunition for shotguns, rifles, and pistols, the filings said.

Neighbors were asked to stay inside their homes, but were not evacuated during the search, Botieri said.

On June 4, Robin Merricks obtained a restraining order barring her husband from living in the Paddington Way home.

She said, in an affidavit, that Merricks kicked in the bathroom door on May 31 after she locked herself inside and called 911 during an argument.

The order was terminated June 20 by Robin Merricks, court records show.

The couple were married in 2007 and are in the process of obtaining a divorce, according to records at Plymouth Probate and Family Court.

A neighbor, Stephen Berzansky, 72, said he was gardening when police officers and firetrucks arrived at the house Thursday.

He said he has lived here for 45 years and has gotten along with Merrick since the police officer moved in about 10 years ago.

“I’m shocked,” he said. “We chit-chat a lot when I’m gardening, over-the-fence-type stuff. I couldn’t say a bad thing about him.”

Merricks joined the Boston police in 1999, Fiandaca said, and most recently had been assigned to Area A-1 in downtown Boston.

It was not clear Friday if Merricks has had any previous disciplinary problems.

Javier Panzar can be reached at javier.panzar@globe.com Follow him on Twitter @jpanzar. John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@
globe.com
. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.
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