Murder suspect in Amherst shooting case pleads not guilty in Superior Court



Published: 01-07-2017 12:40 AM

NORTHAMPTON — Soknang Chham, the New Salem man prosecutors say shot and killed a 31-year-old Amherst man in October, pleaded not guilty Friday to a slew of charges he is now facing in Hampshire Superior Court.

Police say Chham, 33, and his brother, Soksot Chham, 35, also of New Salem, are responsible for the death of Jose “Joselito” Rodriguez, who was killed the night of Oct. 15, 2016 at Southpoint Apartments in Amherst. Another man, 28, also sustained injuries after being shot multiple times, but survived after he underwent surgery at UMass Medical Center in Worcester.

Authorities have not yet offered a motive behind the slaying or what may have precipitated the alleged assaults.

On Friday, in the presence of about a dozen of Rodriguez’s family and friends and a heavy police presence both in and out of the courtroom, Soknang Chham pleaded not guilty to murder, armed assault with intent to murder, assault and battery with a firearm, assault with a dangerous weapon, carrying a firearm without a license, and a firearm violation with at least two prior violent or drug-related offenses.

He was originally arraigned in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown on Dec. 16 and pleaded not guilty to murder and armed assault with intent to murder. The other charges were handed up from a grand jury last month.

Soksot Chham, too, was arraigned then in Eastern Hampshire District Court, pleading not guilty to being an accessory after-the-fact to murder. He’s due back in court Jan. 25 and is being held at Franklin County Jail and House of Correction, with bail set at $250,000 cash.

Soknang Chham remains at Hampshire Jail and House of Correction without bail without prejudice. This means that his defense counsel, William O’Neil, can argue for bail at a later date.

Both men were taken into custody by the United States Marshals Service on Oct. 25, near Flagstaff, Arizona, after investigators learned they fled Massachusetts on a Phoenix-bound bus.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Hampshire Mall sells for fraction of assessed value at $7M
A doctor’s boarders: Dr. Jessica Bossie’s mission to help the homeless find the right house
Belchertown athletic director Jen Gouvin moving on after 5½ years
DOT to transition traffic on I-91S in Northampton to permanent bridges Thursday night
Divided over school funding, Northampton council fails to pass mayor’s budget
Hampshire College to cut benefits as enrollment for next school year comes in below projections

Michael Majchrowicz can be reached at