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Testimony begins in Granby arson trial of Scott Szaban

Scott Szaban<br/><br/>GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Scott Szaban

GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

NORTHAMPTON — Testimony began Tuesday in the trial of the Granby man who prosecutors say started a 2011 house fire that “burned the memories and hopes” of the family that owned it.

Scott Szaban, 47, of 299 East State St., has pleaded not guilty to a single count of arson, two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and one count of felony nighttime breaking and entering.

Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Matthew Thomas told jurors that Szaban admitted to setting the fire and gave a detailed description of how he did so in a recorded telephone call, portions of which will be played for jurors.

Szaban’s attorney, David Mintz of Northampton, declined to present an opening statement in court Tuesday.

Mintz has the option of presenting a statement at the conclusion of the prosecution’s case, according to Hampshire Superior Court Judge Bertha Josephson, who is presiding over the trial.

Thomas said on Sept. 27, 2011, Szaban broke into the vacant home at 92 Chicopee St. in Granby with a set of bolt cutters and snapped off several pieces of copper pipe, placed them into a duffel bag and carried them out of the house.

The house was being refurbished for sale by Theodore Laborde of Easthampton, whose deceased parents had previously owned it, according to court papers.

Thomas said in court Tuesday that Szaban gathered curtains from inside the house, put them in a pile and set them on fire.

Szaban was seen near the fire by several witnesses, according to court records.

Police went to Szaban’s house Feb. 9, 2012, to arrest him in connection with the fire. Thomas said officers saw Szaban brandishing a pellet rife with an attached laser scope.

Thomas said in court that Szaban had aimed the rife at two officers, so a red dot made by the laser scope was visible on each of their chests.

Police said when they identified themselves to Szaban he lowered the weapon. He was arrested without further incident.

Szaban has been held without bail since his arrest.

Szaban was found not guilty of arson by a Hampshire Superior Court jury in an unrelated case in 2010.

The trial is expected to last about three days.

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

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