Judge hears arguments to dismiss arson case
JERREY ROBERTS Anthony Baye leaves Hampshire Superior Court after a pretrial hearing in December Purchase photo reprints »
SPRINGFIELD — A judge is deciding whether there is enough evidence to warrant bringing Anthony Baye to trial on multiple charges including arson and murder, or if the 42-count indictment against him should be dismissed.
Judge Constance Sweeney heard arguments from lawyers on both sides in Hampden Superior Court on Tuesday. A decision is expected soon, according to special prosecutor Brett Vottero.
Baye has pleaded not guilty to all 42 charges, including multiple counts of arson and two counts of murder in connection with the deaths of Paul Yeskie Sr., 81, and his son Paul Yeskie Jr., 39, in their Fair Street home Dec. 27, 2009.
Baye’s attorneys, Thomas Lesser and David Hoose of Northampton, maintain that there is no evidence connecting their client to any of the fires he is accused of setting.
Also on Tuesday, a hearing was scheduled for April 26 in Hampden Superior Court on a series of motions regarding whether particular pieces of evidence can be introduced at trial.
Vottero said the motions include whether to allow testimony about Baye’s alleged drug use and destructive behavior; testimony about a lack of similar fires in the neighborhood since Baye’s arrest; testimony from witnesses about a May 2, 2009, fire he is accused of setting; and whether to allow statements Baye allegedly made to his parents after his arrest in January 2010.
Vottero is also seeking to have expert testimony allowed by state Trooper Michael Mazza that a single individual was responsible for all of the fires Baye is accused of setting.
If the case proceeds to trial, jury selection is scheduled to begin May 6 from a pool drawn from Hampden County. The case will be tried in Hampshire Superior Court.
Baye has been in custody since his arrest. Six of the charges he faces carry potential life sentences if he is convicted.
Baye was originally indicted following a series of fires in Northampton on Dec. 27, 2009, one of which killed the Yeskies.
In July 2012, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that portions of Baye’s recorded interview by police were inadmissible as evidence, prompting the Northwestern district attorney’s office to drop most of the charges against him.
Eight days later, a grand jury re-indicted Baye on charges related to the fires on Dec. 27, 2009, as well as 11 others dating back to 2007, most of them in Ward 3 of Northampton, the neighborhood where Baye lived.
“Improper evidence was knowingly given to the grand jury in order to obtain the indictment,” according to the 17-page motion to dismiss the charges filed in January by Lesser and Hoose.
Bob Dunn can be reached at email@example.com.