Pregent Law’s Recent Not Guilty Verdict Featured in News

Man with trunk full of Molotov cocktails deemed not guilty; Mental illness cited as reason


BEVERLY — A troubled young Beverly man who disclosed to doctors that his car trunk was filled with Molotov cocktails and gasoline last summer was found not guilty by reason of mental illness following a brief trial Wednesday morning.

Stefan Jovic, 23, was charged and later indicted on 24 counts of illegal possession of an incendiary device following the Aug. 13 discovery on Beckford Street, where Jovic was living at the time.

During the jury-waived trial, Beverly Police Lt. Tim Hegarty testified that police received a call from a security officer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, concerning disclosures by Jovic, who was in the hospital’s psychiatric ward.

Jovic has been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

The information provided by the hospital led police to evacuate the area around Jovic’s parked Honda Civic and call in a state police bomb squad, Hegarty said. Inside the trunk were two boxes containing two dozen Mason jars filled with a mix of gasoline, oil and coolant and stuffed with rags, he testified.

Police subsequently faced criticism over their failure to publicly explain the evacuation and street closure. They initially announced that there was no public safety threat and would not say what was found in the Honda.

The details emerged during Jovic’s initial court appearance two weeks later.

In addition to hearing from Hegarty, Salem Superior Court Judge David Lowy read a copy of a psychiatric evaluation conducted on Jovic at Bridgewater State Hospital.

Prosecutor James Gubitose and defense lawyer Travis Pregent had agreed that the report would be the only physical evidence submitted.

Lowy concluded that Jovic, at the time, lacked criminal responsibility for having the items.

Gubitose asked the judge to commit Jovic to Bridgewater State Hospital for a 40-day evaluation to determine whether he still requires hospitalization. The judge granted the request.

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