Thursday January 10, 2013

PITTSFIELD -- A Berkshire Superior Court jury found Brian K. Podavini guilty on Wednesday of a single charge of witness intimidation in connection with an alleged September 2011 baseball bat attack that occurred after a drug-fueled night of partying.

Podavini, 42, was found not guilty of two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and a single count of kidnapping.

The jury deliberated for about two hours on Wednesday before returning its verdict. Podavini, who had been out on $300 bail, was taken into custody by order of Judge Daniel A. Ford and will be held without the right to bail until his sentencing, which is scheduled for Friday. He is facing a maximum of 10 years in state prison on the conviction.

The three-day Berkshire Superior Court trial included testimony from the victim, 25-year-old Brian Harris Jr. Podavini did not take the stand in his own defense.

Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Marianne Shelvey told the jury that on the morning of Sept. 25, 2011, after a night of hard drinking and crack smoking, Podavini became angry with Harris over what Harris had been telling people about him.

She said he attacked the victim "in a drug-induced rage" with a baseball bat and large metal flashlight, kept him prisoner in the home, and smashed his cell phone to keep him from calling for help.

The prosecutor said there was medical evidence that Harris suffered a concussion, a minor head injury and abrasions from the attack.

Podavini’s attorney, Jill Sheldon, said that Harris told several different versions of what happened that morning and likely received his injuries when he went tumbling down a hill after leaving Podavini’s house that morning.

The defense attorney pointed out to the jury that no baseball bat, flashlight or smashed cell phone were ever recovered. The Pittsfield Police did not seek a warrant to search Podavini’s house for the items.

She said Podavini’s cousin, Daniel Balardini, came over to the apartment on the morning of the incident. He testified that Harris was uninjured and not being held against his will.

Podavini is being housed at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction pending sentencing.

He is still facing unrelated charges of possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute and conspiracy to violate the drug laws. Those charges stem from an April Berkshire County Drug Task Force investigation into alleged drug dealing at the former Hermann Alexander’s bar.

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