Friday November 16, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Two Superior Court juries in back-to-back trials have convicted a 27-year-old city man on 19 charges, including one that carries a minimum 10-year sentence. The charges all stem from a crime spree in the summer of 2011.

Daniel Knight was convicted on Wednesday of 18 out of 38 charges he was facing, including seven weapons charges that allowed the Berkshire District Attorney's Office to move for a second trial on the crime of armed career felon, which carries a decade long prison sentence. On Thursday a second jury found Knight guilty of that charge.

In Knight's first trial, which began last week, he was found guilty on multiple charges related to the theft of an ATM from Bill's Top of the Hill Citgo on West Housatonic Street in Pittsfield, along with the attempted theft of another ATM from a city hair salon and a break-in at storage facility in New York in which a cache of firearms was stolen.

The jury spent more than six hours between two days deliberating before returning the verdict against Knight.

The jury found Knight not guilty of charges related to a break-in of a Pittsfield storage facility.

The case revolved, in part, around the testimony of two of Knight's codefendants, Joseph Berry and Marley Roraback, both 22 and from Pittsfield. They told the jury that Knight had been involved in the spree. Their veracity was called into question by Knight's lawyer, Michelle Mechta. She called the pair "liars" who were looking for both a plea deal and someone to pin the crimes on. Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Marianne Shelvey, who prosecuted the case with ADA Dana Parsons, said that the pair has been promised nothing from the DA's Office, that they took the stand of their own free will and were telling the truth.

The cases against both Berry and Roraback are pending.

Another codefendant, Ja son Fuller, 35, is on the run. Police say there is a warrant out for his arrest. According to court testimony, he fled to Texas.

Knight did not take the stand in his own defense in the first trial.

After the verdict was read, Shelvey moved to have a hearing on a final charge: armed career felon. On Thursday a jury deliberated for about 11 2 hours before finding Knight guilty of that charge. That case revolved around whether two previous heroin distribution convictions from 2006 fit the criteria for the crime. Mechta argued that while her client had two separate convictions, they stemmed from the same sale, and therefore didn't meet the requirements needed to convict.

Knight took the stand in the second trial and told the jury that he had helped a friend (who turned out to be a police informant) score some drugs and that it was a single drug deal that spanned a two-day period. Shelvey argued the defendant pleaded guilty to two separate indictments, which met the crime's requirements.

Knight was remanded to jail without bail pending sentencing, which is scheduled for Nov. 29.

The investigation was handled by the Pittsfield Police Department and led by Pittsfield Police Detective Thomas Dawley. The Lanes borough Police Department assisted in the case.

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