Thursday August 30, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- A 26-year-old city resident police say slashed a stranger's face as the man sat in his car is heading to trial in the next few months, but the defendant's attorney says there are issues of identity that need to be addressed first.

In Berkshire Superior Court on Wednesday, attorney Michelle Mechta, who represents Jeremy Gomes, told the court there were issues with the identification of her client as the man police say slashed the face of a 19-year-old last September.

Gomes allegedly slashed Zachary Sevigny with a box-cutter outside a Tyler Street convenience store Sept. 10, 2011, after the two exchanged words. The cut required 30 stitches to sew up, police said.

Gomes previously served two years in jail for slashing the cheeks of an acquaintance, according to court records.

He has pleaded not guilty to mayhem, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and breaking and entering in the nighttime for a felony. Gomes contends he didn't commit the crime and was with his father at the time of the attack.

According to Mechta, one of the witnesses in the case was taken to the Pittsfield Police station and given 975 photos of white males between 25 and 35 to look through.

First Berkshire Assistant District Attorney Paul J. Caccaviello said the witness identified Gomes as having been at the scene of the crime.

Mechta questioned how the identification procedure took place and asked for a hearing so she could question the police officer who was there. She cited a lack of information given by police surrounding the procedure as reasons for the hearing.

The defense attorney said that four of the witnesses, including the victim, failed to identify her client from a police photo array of eight faces.

The victim and two friends saw Gomes on the street several days later, believed he was the attacker and contacted the Pittsfield Police De partment, who arrested Gomes, she said.

Caccaviello disputed the claim that the victim failed to identify Gomes in the lineup.

Sevigny, said the prosecutor, identified a photograph of Gomes, telling police "if I had to pick one of these people it would be him," and pointed to the image of the defendant.

Mechta also filed a motion to dismiss breaking and entering charges. Police charged Gomes with that crime for allegedly reaching into an open car window to slash Sevigny. Mechta said this act doesn't fit the description of the charged crime. Both she and Caccaviello presented case law they say backs their interpretation of the law.

Judge John A. Agostini said he would take everything into consideration and let them know his decision. He did not say when he would issue his decision on the motions.

Based on the judge's decision the case will go to trial in either September or November.

Gomes remains free on bail.