Defense files motion to dismiss case against accused arsonist Anthony Baye, trial still on track to begin in May

Last modified: Tuesday, January 29, 2013

NORTHAMPTON — The trial of accused arsonist Anthony Baye is set to begin in early May, but his defense team Tuesday made a last-ditch effort to have the case against him thrown out.

Baye, 28, has been in custody since his arrest in early 2010, after investigators linked him to an alleged arson spree in Northampton that killed Paul Yeskie Sr. and his adult son Paul Yeskie Jr. in their home on Fair Street.

Baye’s defense team filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him Tuesday before a brief hearing in Hampden Superior Court in Springfield before Judge Constance Sweeney, who is presiding over the case.

One of Baye’s defense lawyers, Thomas Lesser of Northampton, said in an interview that the motion to dismiss is based on what he said is a lack of evidence connecting Baye to the fires and “inflammatory” evidence about so-called “prior bad acts” having been introduced to the grand jury to help secure an indictment.

Lesser said after portions of Baye’s recorded interview with police were ruled inadmissible in July 2012, prosecutors began attempting to link Baye to unsolved fires in the city dating back to 2007.

Lesser said there is nothing to connect Baye to those earlier fires, aside from a state witness who testified that the same person responsible for the Dec. 2009 fires was also responsible for the earlier ones.

There had been nothing to connect the earlier fires to each other, or to the Dec. 27, 2009, fires, Lesser said, until the state needed enough evidence to re-indict Baye after most of the original charges were dropped following the suppression of the interview evidence.

Testimony about Baye’s alleged drug use and petty vandalism had nothing to do with the charges Baye faces, Lesser said.

Sweeney did not rule on any motions in the case Tuesday. A motion hearing is scheduled for April 1.

Baye was arrested in January 2010 after more than a dozen fires were set in homes, cars and outbuildings, primarily in the Ward 3 neighborhood of Northampton, early on the morning of Dec. 27, 2009.

In July, the state Supreme Judicial Court ruled that portions of Baye’s recorded interview with police were inadmissible as evidence. This prompted the district attorney’s office to drop some of the charges against Baye, only to re-indict him eight days later.

The 42 counts against Baye include charges of murder, arson and burglary.

Six of the charges carry potential life sentences if Baye is convicted.

Bob Dunn can be reached at


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