Tuesday May 22, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- With a guilty plea for one man and the dismissal of charges for another, Monday marked the conclusion of the March 2010 slaying case of Jahda Martin, the 26-year-old who was attacked and stabbed in a parking lot on Wendell Avenue Extension.

In Berkshire Superior Court, Trevor L. "Jamaican Jay" Pryce, of North Adams, pleaded guilty to a single count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

On Monday, The Berkshire District Attorney's Office also filed paperwork dismissing charges of murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and witness intimidation against Allan McGraw, 31, of Kingston, N.Y.

According to court documents, the DA's office stated it would not be able to prosecute the case against McGraw because one of the witnesses was deported, while others told prosecutors "they could no longer recall the events underlying the indictments" and were therefore unable to corroborate any earlier statements they made.

A motive in the case has never been offered, and it remains unclear what prompted the attack.

However, McGraw is being held as a fugitive. In New York, he is facing up to 61 2 years in prison on a parole warrant once he is returned to that state.

McGraw was scheduled to go to trial in Berkshire Superior Court this week -- the only one of the defendants who did not plead guilty to lesser charges in the March 6, 2010 killing of Martin.

According to police and prosecutors, Martin was leaving the former Club Groove on Wendell Avenue Extension in Pittsfield just after 1:30 a.m. on March 6, 2010, when he was attacked in a nearby Burger King parking lot by several people, including McGraw, John C. "Jay" Spratling, 28, of Pittsfield, and Terrance W. Brown, 28, of Springfield.

Brown stabbed Martin, 26, once in the leg, a wound that would prove fatal after Martin was rushed to Berkshire Med ical Center.

Pryce was also charged in the attack. On Monday, Judge Daniel A. Ford sentenced him to 21 2 years in the county jail.

Pryce's attorney, Leonard H. Cohen, said there was no evidence that his client conspired with or was involved in the homicide of Martin, but did take part in the "brawl."

Forensic evidence showed that Martin had received non-life threatening blows to his head and body.

Assistant District Attorney Gregory Barry told the court the plea deal took into account Pryce's "level of participation" in the assault, which was "less than the other defendants."

Pryce has already served about 26 months in jail, waiting for his case to conclude, and has about four months to go, possibly less for good behavior, Cohen said.

Pryce still faces up to 14 months of incarceration for a parole violation stemming from a previous drug conviction.

A fifth defendant, 32-year-old Casey Ivery, was charged as an accessory for driving Brown to Springfield and assisting in cleaning the car that Brown used to leave the crime scene.

No motive has been given as to why Martin was attacked, but all the defendants had been in the club before the assault, according to previous testimony.

Martin was a a standout basketball player at Lee High School. He grew up in the Bronx, N.Y., and spent time at Berkshire Farm, a child welfare agency with a residential program in Canaan, N.Y., before being fostered by a local family.

After high school, he attended college but left without graduating and returned to the Berkshires. Just days before he died, he had been arrested on a drug charge.

The investigation into Mar tin's killing was conducted by members of the Pittsfield Pol ice Department, state police detectives assigned to the District Attorney's Office, state police from the Crime Scene Services Section and members of the Berkshire County Drug Task Force.

To reach Andrew Amelinckx:
aamelinckx@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6249.
On Twitter: @BE_TheAmelinckx



At a glance ...

Here are the outcomes of the five cases that grew out of the March 2010 case involving the death of Jahda Martin. All the cases were heard in Berkshire Superior Court.

  • Terrance W. Brown, 28, of Springfield, pleaded guilty March 22 to a single count of manslaughter and was sentenced to 10-12 years in state prison.
  • Casey Ivery, 32, of Pittsfield, pleaded guilty April 25 as an accessory to manslaughter and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and was sentenced to 18 months in the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction.
  • Trevor L. "Jamaican Jay" Pryce, of North Adams, pleaded guilty on Monday to assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and was sentenced to 21 2 years in jail.
  • Allan McGraw, 31, of Kingston, N.Y., had his case dismissed by the Berkshire District Attorney's Office on Monday.
  • John C. "Jay" Spratling, 28, of Pittsfield, pleaded guilty April 25 to a single count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and was sentenced to at least five years and no more than six years in state prison.

Brown, Pryce, McGraw and Spratling all were originally charged with murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and witness intimidation.