A prosecutor revealed evidence in court Tuesday linking a 38-year-old Windham man to the armed robbery of a Westbrook gas station and indicated the man also could be connected to more hold-ups in a string of robberies that have plagued business owners in southern Maine in recent weeks.

Travis Card, 38, was ordered held in lieu of $25,000 cash bail Tuesday by Judge Thomas Warren at his first appearance in court after police charged him with the April 6 robbery of the Gulf Mart gas station on Bridgton Road in Westbrook.

While Card is charged with a single count, police continue to investigate him in connection to more than a dozen other robberies committed in Southern Maine around the same timeframe and that shared characteristics with the Gulf Mart crime. Because of the ongoing work, key documents that would shed light on how investigators zeroed in on Card have been kept from public view.

But some of those details leaked out in open court Tuesday after Card’s attorney, Heather Gonzales, argued that police did not have enough probable cause to charge Card with the single robbery. Gonzales said a witness at the Gulf Mart described the perpetrator as having dark eyes and prominent eye brows, and her client has neither facial feature.

In response, Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Sahrbeck described some of the evidence against Card gathered by police so far. After the Gulf Mart robbery, a witness reported to police seeing a dark-colored truck bearing a distinctive wave-like logo leave the area. Separately, video captured near the scene of a subsequent robbery in Old Orchard Beach captured images of a similar vehicle.

Later, when police had honed in on Card and began conducting surveillance on him, they noted Card was driving a truck that matched the description given by the witness and captured in the video.

And when police arrested Card Friday, he was driving a work truck owned by his employer at the time, Watermatic, a South Portland irrigation company, and the truck and its GPS system were specified in court papers as targets of the search.

Another key piece of evidence connecting Card to the Gulf Mart robbery came from Card’s former probation officer, Sahrbeck said. In a different video released to the public, the Gulf Mart robber can be heard clearly demanding cash.

“Pop the register, please,” he said.

Police circulated the video and asked the public to listen to his voice.

Card, who has a criminal record including for burglary and theft, had been required to report to a probation officer in the past, and Card’s probation officer told police she recognized Card’s voice.

Then there was the issue of the sneaker.

After the first several robberies, the FBI released a video March 31 showing the suspect involved in the first robbery in the series, of the Riverton Gas Station in Portland March 20, wearing black sneakers with a white sole.

In court, Sahrbeck said someone called police April 2, a couple of days after the video was distributed to the public, to report that a similar shoe was discarded on Methodist Road in Westbrook. Police tested it for DNA.

“The DNA came back as Card,” Sahrbeck said.

During the subsequent April 6 Gulf Mart robbery, the suspect was wearing a pair of brown work boots, not the black and white sneakers.

Sahrbeck also said police found pairs of purple examination gloves in the Westbrook apartment where Card had been staying that were similar to the ones used in the Gulf Mart hold-up after they searched the apartment and the trash outside.

Warren, the judge, ultimately found that police had probable cause for the arrest, and while he acknowledged Gonzales’s argument that Card did not match the description given by a Gulf Mart witness, he said eye-witness identification is not always reliable and gave weight to the other evidence described.

Gonzales requested $5,000 cash bail. Sahrbeck requested the amount remain at $50,000, which was set by a bail commissioner following Card’s arrest.

Warren imposed $25,000 cash, and if Card is able to post that amount, he would be required to not possess alcohol or drugs, submit to random search and testing for those substances, and submit to house arrest.

Card’s arrest came after a total of 15 robberies, including three in Westbrook and 10 spread across eight other communities. While a different suspect was arrested and charged with a robbery in Gorham on April 7, police had said they believed the remaining 14 robberies could be connected to each other.

FBI agents and police from Westbrook, Portland and South Portland swarmed Card’s vehicle shortly after he left his father’s house in Westbrook on Friday morning on his way to work.

Travis Card has a family home in Windham along with his wife and two children, ages 9 and 1. But he had been staying with his father in recent weeks because of marital difficulties, his father, Ray Card Jr., said.

Investigators searched Card’s father’s home after the arrest Friday and confiscated a BB pistol, multiple pairs of gloves, a black sweatshirt and other items, according to a receipt police provided to Ray Card Jr. They also took the trash cans, he said.

According to a portion of the search warrant provided to Ray Card Jr., police listed what they believed they might find in the apartment, including a black semi-automatic pistol, blue jeans, a blue hooded sweatshirt, a black ski mask, a pair of black work gloves with a white stripe across the wrist, purple nitrile gloves, a purple or lavendar scarf, a Garmin GPS unit in Card’s work truck, and Card’s black iPhone.

But police are still keeping their investigation under wraps. The search warrant affidavit, the document that describes to a judge why police believe they have enough evidence to warrant a search, has been filed under seal.

Warren also granted an order impounding the affidavit for Card’s arrest, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation.

Because Card was charged with a felony, he did not have to enter a plea Tuesday. Police and prosecutors next have to bring the charges before a grand jury, who will be asked to indict Card formally on the Robbery charge. It is a process that can take months, depending on the speed of the investigation and the complexity of the charges being filed.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

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