Harry Goodman believed that the same man robbed his Charles Village dry cleaners four times in three years.
The attacker always wore thick eyeglasses to compensate for a lazy eye. But Goodman concluded last week that he would be able to convince a jury in only one case - the most recent one, in which Bruce Ricks burst into the shop, pulled a knife from his waistband, darted around the counter and reached for the register.
During that 2008 attempted robbery, Goodman fought back, shooting Ricks three times. With Goodman's consent, prosecutors dropped two of four robbery cases against Ricks, 34, after separate juries last week convicted him in the 2008 attack and acquitted him of one of three 2005 attacks.
"We kind of got what we went after," Goodman said of Ricks' conviction on attempted armed robbery, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
But Goodman, who has owned the basement-level St. Paul Cleaners at St. Paul and 32nd streets for decades, also expressed frustration with trial rules that prohibited jurors from knowing the full scope of the assaults.
For the most part, prosecutor Kurt Bjorklund needed to prove each robbery beyond a reasonable doubt on the evidence in that case alone, rather than map out the pattern of robberies for jurors. And he was hampered by a lack of physical evidence.
"There was no DNA, no surveillance cameras, no fingerprints found on the knife," said Ricks' defense attorney Martin Dorsey. "There were no fingerprints traced back to my client on the cash register, door or counter. It boiled down to, because there were no witnesses, what the victim was saying versus what Mr. Ricks was telling me."