STOUGHTON — A 23-year-old Dedham man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to twice robbing a Canton Dunkin’ Donuts as police continued to investigate whether he is behind a series of holdups at two dozen other such shops over the last nine months.
Isaiah Murphy, a former Dunkin’ Donuts employee who lives with his mother, was ordered held on $200,000 cash bail after he was arraigned in Stoughton District Court on charges of armed robbery. His motive, according to Canton Police Chief Kenneth Berkowitz, was “financial gain.”
Murphy could face up to 20 years in state prison if he is convicted, said Judge James Sullivan, explaining the high bail.
Murphy is accused of robbing the same Dunkin’ Donuts shop, once on June 30 and again on July 24, while wearing gloves, dark clothing, and a mask over his mouth and nose. He allegedly pointed a gun at the clerk and demanded money on both occasions, said Norfolk Assistant District Attorney Chris Meade.
Murphy is also being investigated in connection with robberies in 14 other cities and towns where similar heists occurred between March and October. In each case, the culprit brandished a gun or a knife, and usually wore gloves. All the robberies occurred at night on a weekday, and all but one took place between 7 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.
Murphy’s defense attorney, James Gavigan, a North Quincy lawyer, said his client and his family were “devastated” by the charges.
“These are extremely egregious charges to be facing,” he said. Murphy’s mother, grandmother, and aunt attended the arraignment. Murphy’s mother wrung her hands and tried to wave at her son, at one point standing up to get a closer look at him as he stood behind a clear partition.
“Please sit down,” a court officer told her sharply.
Murphy, who wore a dark coat and sweat shirt, was stoic throughout the proceeding. After the hearing, he looked over at his mother and nodded as a court officer led him away.
Gavigan said Murphy had been working a full-time job at the Macy’s distribution center in Dedham and graduated from Dedham High School in 2008.
Meade, the prosecutor, said that Murphy had worked once at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Westwood but left under “less than amicable” circumstances. A message left at Dunkin’ Donuts’ corporate office in Canton was not immediately returned.
Meade laid out little physical evidence connecting Murphy to the crimes. No gun was found in his Dedham home, which police searched Monday. But officers said they found two .45-caliber rounds and containers of BB gun pellets in his bedroom. They also found two pairs of shoes, including a pair of black Nike sneakers, according to a police report.
Meade said that police found a pair of sneakers that resembled the shoes worn by the perpetrator in the robberies.
Murphy was arrested Tuesday as he was driving away from his home in a car that resembled the getaway vehicle used in one of the robberies, officials said. A witness described the getaway car to police.
After he was arrested, Murphy allegedly told detectives that he was “doing it for the money,” Berkowitz said. He declined to be more specific, citing the ongoing investigation.
Murphy has no felony convictions on his record; he has driving offenses in Dedham, but before Tuesday had never been in serious trouble with police.
“It was a big jump to start committing armed robberies like that, but as we started gathering evidence it just started pointing more and more to him,” Berkowitz said.
Berkowitz said Murphy is being looked at closely in connection with the other Dunkin’ Donuts robberies.
“We’re confident that we have someone in custody who is going to be tied to the other ones,” Berkowitz said.