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Man charged in 2013 Cary culvert fire now charged with breaking into cars

Posted August 25, 2015
Updated August 28, 2015

Tristan Matthew Zammit
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— A man charged two years ago with setting a fire that caused nearly $500,000 in damage to a major Cary roadway has been arrested three times in recent weeks in connection with vehicle break-ins.

Tristan Matthew Zammit, 19, of 101 Sweetspire Way in Cary, was charged Monday with breaking and entering a motor vehicle, larceny after breaking and entering and possession of a firearm by a felon. He also was charged with breaking and entering a motor vehicle on Wednesday and in a July 15 case.

In 2013, Cary police arrested Zammit, then 17, in connection with a culvert fire beneath part of Cary Parkway, which was closed for three weeks as a result.

Wake County prosecutors later dismissed the charge as part of an effort by the state to recoup the $482,120 spent to repair the culvert and repave the road.

In February, Raleigh police stopped Zammit while driving into oncoming traffic on Western Boulevard and arrested him after finding drugs in a backpack in his car.

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  • John Barbara Aug 26, 2015
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    You rightly look at color but incorrectly assume it is skin.

    The police, white and black, care about color: Blue. The Courts care about color as well: green.

    Black cops kill whites and white cops kill blacks regularly and they'll defend each other to the bitter end.

    The only two thing the DA's office cares about is their conviction rate. The judges care about how much money their fellow members of the Bar Association wring out of this process. A defendant with a paid attorney will put $ into the hands of the members of the Bar Association, a defendant with a for free attorney does not. A defendant with a paid attorney intends to fight the DA and if it isn't a slam dunk conviction the DA will hesitate. A lot of very guilty people laugh their way out of court just by having a reptile for an attorney, someone with no respect for justice and the right connections.

  • John Barbara Aug 26, 2015
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    You are correct, the past cannot be changed. You may have changed but you're asking a stranger or set of strangers to trust you on that. You have to expect there will be a lot of people reluctant to take that risk.

    As to this Zammit kid, his case illustrates some of the very real defects in the criminal justice process and the incompetence of the Wake County DA's office. They will gladly beat up on people with pro bono attorneys or public defenders. The DA's office gets the bottom of the barrel, boot scrapings, for prosecuting attorneys, a defendant with a for fee attorney is going to get a much better result than a defendant with a for free attorney generally. The DA is most worried about his conviction rate, not justice. You show up with a for free attorney you might as well wrap yourself in bacon and go stand in a lion's den. As long as someone pays for Zammit to have a good attorney he will be given unlimited 2nd chances. Sadly.

  • Djofraleigh Anderson Aug 25, 2015
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    Poster Rashad, you defend and attack, but if you keep the fire and passion alive and keep trying to better yourself and stay out of trouble, then I see you have what it takes to be successful. Rashad's words reminded me of country singer/songwriter Merle Haggard's song, "Branded Man." Merle was in San Quentin at 21, and worked hard to live it down, finally getting a presidential pardon.

  • Djofraleigh Anderson Aug 25, 2015
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    To me, his bond was perhaps on the high side by his "conviction" record. I see people who break into cars get out before trial. Is this guy even out? The guy is on the wrong road. He'll make the news everytime he does anything.

  • Djofraleigh Anderson Aug 25, 2015
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    He was not convicted or charged for the covert fire for this reason:

    "If Zammit were convicted of a crime in the case, the family's homeowner's insurance would view the fire an an intentional act and most likely not pay for the damage, authorities said. The insurer would pay for something that is the result of negligence, so prosecutors said there is a better chance of recovering the money in civil court.
    Read more at http://www.wral.com/charges-dismissed-against-teen-in-fire-that-closed-cary-parkway/13227973/#SMEMhajJI7DxPky1.99

  • Rashad Simmons Aug 25, 2015
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    I apologize to anyone I offended by throwing the race card on the table. I just see it all the time. That doesn't give me the right to say that. But it is the cold hard truth in some cases. I am in no way racist against anyone.

  • Dan Courtine Aug 25, 2015
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    Rashad, you as well as the others all have valid points. Your past does stick with you, and it will take someone special to see past that and give you a chance. I would like to talk to you about some ideas I have if you're open. Please connect with me on Facebook if you'd like to talk.

  • Belle Boyd Aug 25, 2015
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    you made your choices now you have to live with the consequences (made your bed now you have to lie in it).

  • Paul Donovan Aug 25, 2015
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    A lot of assumptions are being made here about the parents. First, they don't own any property in Cary. You can confirm that at the Wake County Tax website. Secondly, when he was caught setting fire to the culvert his parents did not put up bail until Spring break was over and he had to go back to school. They made him sit in jail over a week before they bailed him out. He is now 19, an adult and I have no idea if his parents or anyone else has bailed him out this time.

  • John Barbara Aug 25, 2015
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    Whose fault is that? That is a situation you should have thought about in advance. There is a trust issue going on, why should anyone trust you that you won't steal from them or harm their person? Think like someone who isn't a convict.....the recidivism rate amongst convicted criminals is pretty high. Why would a small business owner want to take that risk? Why should anyone believe you now?

    You have four Breaking and Entering convictions and four Larceny convictions, you are a convicted felon. It's pretty impressive that you think someone that fits the profile of the type of person you would have robbed now has an obligation to believe your claim that that is 'in the past". Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't. Convictions aren't a record of incidents, only those incidents in which you were caught and convicted.

    You need to reassess your comment, it is people such as yourself that make it hard for others.

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