Wednesday November 14, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Jurors are weighing the fate of a city man accused of a series of break-ins -- as well as the theft of an ATM and the failed theft of another -- after a week-long trial in Berkshire Superior Court.

Daniel Knight, 27, is facing 40 charges, including multiple weapon and larceny from a building offenses as well as single counts of armed career felon and common and notorious thief, among others. Prosecutors say Knight was responsible for the theft in the summer of 2011 of an ATM and the attempted theft of another in Pittsfield as well as a series of break-ins of storage facilities here and in New York, one of which involved the theft of a number of firearms.

Knight’s attorney, Michelle Mechta, conceded on Tuesday that while there was evidence that her client tried to steal an ATM from Avant-Garde, a hair salon on West Housatonic Street (he was caught on tape and his fingerprints were recovered), there was nothing tying Knight to any other crimes except the testimony of his co-defendants. Mechta called Joseph Berry and Marley Roraback, both 22 and from Pittsfield, "a bunch of liars" who only testified to try and get a plea deal. Mechta pointed out that Berry initially told police that Knight was involved in a crime he later admitted Knight hadn’t been involved in.

"They wanted someone to take the fall," she told the jury.

Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Marianne Shelvey, who is prosecuting the case with ADA Dana Parsons, said that while Knight’s co-defendants may have taken the stand in the hopes of receiving leniency, they have been promised nothing by the DA’s office.

"It was up to them to testify," she said.

Shelvey said that while Berry initially lied to police about his role in the caper, he eventually confessed to 108 crimes. The cases against both Berry and Roraback are pending.

The prosecutor said testimony tied Knight to the theft of an ATM from Bill’s Top of the Hill Citgo on West Housatonic and two break-ins at storage facilities in Pittsfield and across the border in New York. In that crime, a number of firearms were taken, most of which were later recovered by police.

The jury of seven women and five men began deliberating on Tuesday afternoon and are expected to continue their deliberations today.

Originally charged with 66 crimes, 26 of Knight’s charges were dismissed -- several at the request of the commonwealth, others by Judge John A. Agostini -- following the close of the prosecution’s case.

Knight remains in custody on $2,500 bail.

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