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Arsonist Anthony Baye sentenced to 19 to 20 years in state prison

  • Anthony Baye at his  sentencing  Wednesday morning in Northampton.

    Anthony Baye at his sentencing Wednesday morning in Northampton. Purchase photo reprints »

  • left Brett Vottero, special prosecutor, and Elaine Yeskie at the press conference after  the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday Morning in Northampton.

    left Brett Vottero, special prosecutor, and Elaine Yeskie at the press conference after the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday Morning in Northampton. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Naomi Cairns listens to the Yeskie families victim statement at the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday morning in Northampton.

    Naomi Cairns listens to the Yeskie families victim statement at the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday morning in Northampton. Purchase photo reprints »

  • left special prosecutor, Brett Vottero,  and Elaine Yeskie at the press conference after  the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday Morning in Northampton.

    left special prosecutor, Brett Vottero, and Elaine Yeskie at the press conference after the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday Morning in Northampton. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Bernadette Giblin crys while listening to victims statements by the Yeskie family at the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday morning in Northampton.

    Bernadette Giblin crys while listening to victims statements by the Yeskie family at the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday morning in Northampton. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Elaine Yeskie at the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday Morning in Northampton.

    Elaine Yeskie at the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday Morning in Northampton. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Debra and Peter Baye at the sentencing of their son Anthony Baye.

    Debra and Peter Baye at the sentencing of their son Anthony Baye. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Anthony Baye at his  sentencing  Wednesday morning in Northampton.

    Anthony Baye at his sentencing Wednesday morning in Northampton. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Bernadette Giblin at the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday morning in Northampton.

    Bernadette Giblin at the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday morning in Northampton. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Elaine Yeskie speaks with Northampton Police Lt. Dorothy Clayton, before a  press conference Wednesday.

    Elaine Yeskie speaks with Northampton Police Lt. Dorothy Clayton, before a press conference Wednesday. Purchase photo reprints »

  • The court room at the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday morning in Northampton.

    The court room at the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday morning in Northampton. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Debra and Peter Baye at the sentencing of their son, Anthony Baye, Wednesday morning in Northampton.

    Debra and Peter Baye at the sentencing of their son, Anthony Baye, Wednesday morning in Northampton. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Elaine Yeskie at the sentencing of Anthony Baye.

    Elaine Yeskie at the sentencing of Anthony Baye. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Naomi Cairns giving a victims statement at the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday morning in Northampton.

    Naomi Cairns giving a victims statement at the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday morning in Northampton. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Elaine Yeski speaks with Special Prosecutor Brett Vottero before the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday morning in Northampton.

    Elaine Yeski speaks with Special Prosecutor Brett Vottero before the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday morning in Northampton. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Debra Baye before the sentencing of her son, Anthony Baye,  Wednesday morning in Northampton.

    Debra Baye before the sentencing of her son, Anthony Baye, Wednesday morning in Northampton. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Defense attorney David Hoose speaks to Debra Baye with defense attorney Thomas Lesser in the background before the sentencing.

    Defense attorney David Hoose speaks to Debra Baye with defense attorney Thomas Lesser in the background before the sentencing. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Anthony Baye enters the court room at his  sentencing  Wednesday morning in Northampton.

    Anthony Baye enters the court room at his sentencing Wednesday morning in Northampton. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Anthony Baye at his  sentencing  Wednesday morning in Northampton.

    Anthony Baye at his sentencing Wednesday morning in Northampton. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hampshire Superior Court Judge Constance Sweeney  at the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday morning in Northampton.

    Hampshire Superior Court Judge Constance Sweeney at the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday morning in Northampton. Purchase photo reprints »

  • at the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday Morning in Northampton.

    at the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday Morning in Northampton. Purchase photo reprints »

  • left, Erica Desreuisseau, Elaine Yeskie's grandaughter, and Elaine Yeskie listen to special prosecutor, Brett Vottero at the press conference held after  the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday Morning in Northampton.

    left, Erica Desreuisseau, Elaine Yeskie's grandaughter, and Elaine Yeskie listen to special prosecutor, Brett Vottero at the press conference held after the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday Morning in Northampton. Purchase photo reprints »

  • left special prosecutor, Brett Vottero,  and Elaine Yeskie at the press conference after  the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday Morning in Northampton.

    left special prosecutor, Brett Vottero, and Elaine Yeskie at the press conference after the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday Morning in Northampton. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Naomi Cairns listens to the Yeskie families victim statement at the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday morning in Northampton.

    Naomi Cairns listens to the Yeskie families victim statement at the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday morning in Northampton. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Anthony Baye at his  sentencing  Wednesday morning in Northampton.
  • left Brett Vottero, special prosecutor, and Elaine Yeskie at the press conference after  the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday Morning in Northampton.
  • Naomi Cairns listens to the Yeskie families victim statement at the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday morning in Northampton.
  • left special prosecutor, Brett Vottero,  and Elaine Yeskie at the press conference after  the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday Morning in Northampton.
  • Bernadette Giblin crys while listening to victims statements by the Yeskie family at the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday morning in Northampton.
  • Elaine Yeskie at the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday Morning in Northampton.
  • Debra and Peter Baye at the sentencing of their son Anthony Baye.
  • Anthony Baye at his  sentencing  Wednesday morning in Northampton.
  • Bernadette Giblin at the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday morning in Northampton.
  • Elaine Yeskie speaks with Northampton Police Lt. Dorothy Clayton, before a  press conference Wednesday.
  • The court room at the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday morning in Northampton.
  • Debra and Peter Baye at the sentencing of their son, Anthony Baye, Wednesday morning in Northampton.
  • Elaine Yeskie at the sentencing of Anthony Baye.
  • Naomi Cairns giving a victims statement at the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday morning in Northampton.
  • Elaine Yeski speaks with Special Prosecutor Brett Vottero before the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday morning in Northampton.
  • Debra Baye before the sentencing of her son, Anthony Baye,  Wednesday morning in Northampton.
  • Defense attorney David Hoose speaks to Debra Baye with defense attorney Thomas Lesser in the background before the sentencing.
  • Anthony Baye enters the court room at his  sentencing  Wednesday morning in Northampton.
  • Anthony Baye at his  sentencing  Wednesday morning in Northampton.
  • Hampshire Superior Court Judge Constance Sweeney  at the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday morning in Northampton.
  • at the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday Morning in Northampton.
  • left, Erica Desreuisseau, Elaine Yeskie's grandaughter, and Elaine Yeskie listen to special prosecutor, Brett Vottero at the press conference held after  the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday Morning in Northampton.
  • left special prosecutor, Brett Vottero,  and Elaine Yeskie at the press conference after  the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday Morning in Northampton.
  • Naomi Cairns listens to the Yeskie families victim statement at the sentencing of Anthony Baye Wednesday morning in Northampton.

NORTHAMPTON — The men killed in a fire started by convicted arsonist Anthony Baye were recalled in court Wednesday as “great gentlemen” whose loss wouldn’t be tempered by any amount of jail time.

Baye was sentenced to 19 to 20 years in state prison for causing the deaths of Paul Yeskie Sr., 81, and his son Paul Yeskie Jr., 39, when he set their Fair Street home ablaze in the early morning hours of Dec. 27, 2009.

Baye will receive credit for 631 days of time already served while in custody awaiting trial.

On Monday Baye, 28, pleaded guilty to 48 charges, including two counts of manslaughter for the Yeskies’ deaths.

Baye admitted setting and attempting to set about three dozen fires, mostly in the Ward 3 neighborhood where he lived on Hawley Street, dating back to 2007, including the fatal blaze.

At a press conference after the sentencing, Brett Vottero, the special prosecutor handling the case, said his office was approached by defense attorneys Saturday, indicating they were looking to arrange a guilty plea. Vottero said his office all along had said a plea would only be considered if Baye admitted to setting all the fires.

He said he approached Elaine Yeskie and her family on Sunday, Mother’s Day, to inform her of the turn of events.

By telephone Wednesday afternoon, one of Baye’s attorneys, Thomas Lesser of Northampton, said he felt manslaughter was the proper charge.

“This never was a murder case,” he said. “The defendant clearly had no intent to harm anyone.”

Lesser declined to comment on what led to Baye’s decision to change his pleas to guilty.

Meanwhile, in court Wednesday, victims of some of the fires described the fear and horror caused when their homes were destroyed and their lives disrupted by Baye’s actions.

Yeskie’s granddaughter Erica Desreuisseau read her grandmother’s statement into the record on her behalf.

“There’s not been a day since the fire I haven’t cried,” Desreuisseau read, as she sat next to Yeskie. “The pain is too great to put into words. There is no punishment harsh enough.”

Later, Judge Constance Sweeney, who presided over the case, asked Yeskie if she cared to say anything else to the court about her late husband and son.

“There isn’t anything Paul Sr. or Paul Jr. wouldn’t do for someone if they asked,” Yeskie said.

Yeskie said she still felt responsible for going back upstairs to her apartment the morning of the fire, where she managed to escape along with her friend Carol LaPointe while her husband and son succumbed to the fire on the home’s first floor.

Sweeney tried to assure her she did the right thing and to not carry that burden.

“Thank God you survived,” Sweeney said.

Desreuisseau gave her own statement and recalled that she had seen Paul Yeskie Jr. on Christmas Eve, less than three days before the fire that took his life.

“Now I hear his voice on 911 recordings,” she said, referencing the harrowing call Paul Yeskie Jr. placed, pleading for help and screaming that there was a fire on the porch trapping him and his father inside and that they couldn’t get out.

That call was played Friday in court on the one and only day of testimony in Baye’s trial.

Following the sentencing, special prosecutor Brett Vottero said that recording and Yeskie’s testimony may have been what convinced Baye to change his plea and end the trial.

Naomi Cairns, who was the victim of two different fires set by Baye over the years, spoke in court and described the terror she felt due to fires she felt were dogging her over the years.

“I could hardly sleep for fear I’d die,” she said.

The first fire, in 2007 on Hawley Street, destroyed almost everything Cairns owned, killed her cat and sent her running into the street “confused and terrified,” she said.

She was a victim of a second fire on Dec. 27, 2009, that Baye started by igniting a box of items that had survived the first fire on the porch of her Highland Avenue home.

Cairns said she made a habit of sleeping with a fire extinguisher within reach and would often burst into tears at the sound of car or fire alarms.

“I believed someone was trying to kill me,” she said.

Cairns said Baye, through his actions, had taken all of the victims’ belongings but he failed to take responsibility for them.

“Anthony, I want an apology,” she said.

While Baye did not speak during the sentencing hearing, one of his attorneys, David Hoose, said he wanted the court to know “how terribly sorry (Baye) is for the pain he’s caused in this case, in his own family and the community.

“He never intended to kill anybody,” Hoose said. “Nevertheless, two people died.”

Vottero read a statement from Laura Seftel, whose husband and son escaped from their 26 Union St. home minutes after Baye ignited a fire on the porch that destroyed the home and all of the family’s belongings.

“I don’t hate Anthony Baye, but I hate what he did to us,” he read. “My children lost the only house they’d ever known.”

Seftel wrote about the loss of security and the chaos created by the fire.

“It’s like standing in the middle of a hurricane that goes on and on,” part of the statement read.

Seftel’s son, Henry Seftel-Siegel, who also testified at trial, submitted his own statement in which he said he couldn’t understand how Baye could have acted so carelessly, “just to see someone’s house burn down.”

In his statement he wondered if the tragedy of the Dec. 27, 2009, fires would have been different if firefighters had been able to respond to the Yeskies’ home before his.

The fire at his home was the first one reported that morning, just before 2 a.m. The fire at the Yeskie house was called in about 10 minutes later.

Seftel-Siegel described the anxiety and fear of going to sleep at night following the fire that destroyed his home, but stopped short of admonishing Baye for his crimes.

“Inside, Anthony is a normal guy, despite his lack of empathy,” Seftel-Siegel wrote.

Having struggled for more than six years with effects of the fires, Cairns said later she wanted police, firefighters, the prosecutors and the victim advocates in the case to know she has felt supported and acknowledged by them.

“They did an amazing job,” she said. “Everybody should be applauded for the work they’ve done.”

Before imposing sentence, Sweeney said she was struck by how much Northampton and the surrounding communities came together in the wake of the disasters and tragedies.

“The community of Northampton was a victim of this crime, and the community is its own best protector,” she said.

“Northampton is an extraordinary shining light for the rest of western Massachusetts of what a community can be,” she said.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@gazettenet.com.

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