Boston police officer pleads not guilty to explosives charges and is released on $1,000 cash bail

PLYMOUTH — Boston Police Officer Kirk D. Merricks today pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of illegal possession of explosives, including four grenades, that Plymouth police said they found in the single family home where he formerly lived with his now estranged wife.

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

Merricks’s attorney, Eric Goldman, said in court that there was no evidence linking the explosives to his client and suggested they may actually belong to the son of his estranged wife, who returned recently from a military tour of duty.

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

After the arraignment Goldman told reporters that Merricks is a veteran who served in Desert Storm and Desert Shield in Iraq.

According to Plymouth Police Chief Michael Botieri, Robin Merricks contacted his department on Thursday after she found what she feared were explosives in parts of the house and in a shed on the couple’s home on Paddington Way.

The State Police Bomb Squad and Plymouth police searched the property and discovered the explosives which included the four grenades, explosive detonation cords, blasting caps, and a form of TNT explosive, the chief said. There were also about 150 rounds of ammunition for shotguns and pistols of various sizes.

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

He said his officers are currently trying to track the history of the recovered 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.’’

In addition, Botteiri said, his officers were called to the Paddington Way home where they found Merricks and his wife engaged in a heated argument. Officers left without making an arrest, but the chief said Merricks’s wife has since obtained a restraining order barring Merricks from living in the Paddington Way home.

The couple, who married in 2007, are currently getting divorced, according to records at Plymouth Probate and Family Court.

Merricks’s next door neighbor Stephen Berzansky, 72, said he was gardening when police officers and fire trucks arrived at the home Thursday.

He said he has lived here for 45 years and has gotten along with Merricks since he 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.”

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

Merricks joined the department in 1999, she said, and most recently has been assigned to Area A-1 in downtown Boston.