Elaine Yeskie sues Anthony Baye in Northampton fires



Last modified: Monday, October 22, 2012

NORTHAMPTON — The widow and mother of men killed in a house fire in 2009 filed a wrongful death lawsuit Wednesday against alleged fire-starter Anthony P. Baye.

Elaine Yeskie, 77, is seeking monetary and punitive damages against Baye, claiming that the fire he allegedly set at her former family home at 17 Fair St. took the lives of her husband, Paul W. Yeskie Sr., 81, and her son, Paul W. Yeskie Jr., 39. Yeskie is seeking a trial by jury. The eight-count lawsuit states she suffered severe emotional distress having witnessed the death of her husband and son on the night of Dec. 29, 2009.

Baye remains in jail awaiting trial on charges related to an alleged arson spree that same night.

Paul W. Yeskie Sr. was a retired World War II veteran. His son, Paul Jr., who had a high-functioning form of autism, worked at the Florence Casket Co.

Elaine Yeskie and another woman, the late Carol Lapointe, escaped the blaze that night. Elaine Yeskie now lives in a new home built where her former home burned down.

The lawsuit filed in Hampshire Superior Court also states that the Yeskie men suffered conscious pain and suffering and that their deaths were allegedly caused by the “malicious, willful, wanton or reckless conduct of Baye.”

Yeskie’s Northampton attorney, Mark A. Tanner, said the lawsuit was filed to meet the three-year statute of limitations for such complaints.

“We’re approaching three years and it had to be filed,” he said, adding that Elaine Yeskie is “more than happy and willing to let the criminal process run its course.”

David Hoose, an attorney representing Baye in the criminal case, said he was not aware of the wrongful death lawsuit until a reporter contacted him about it Thursday. He said Baye would not comment.

Baye, 27, was arrested in January 2010 in connection with more than a dozen fires that were set in homes, cars and other structures, primarily in the Ward 3 neighborhood where he lived. A former kitchen worker at a downtown restaurant in Northampton, he remains jailed pending his May 2013 trial on charges including murder, arson and burglary.

The state Supreme Judicial Court in July threw out portions of Baye’s recorded interviews with police after the court ruled that the state troopers who interrogated Baye obtained statements from him improperly. As a result, some earlier charges against Baye were dropped.

Eight days later, however, Baye was re-indicted on 42 counts, including new arson charges related to an earlier series of fires in and around the Hawley Street neighborhood where he lived.

Dan Crowley can be reached at dcrowley@gazettenet.com.


 


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