Friday April 19, 2013

PITTSFIELD -- An inmate at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction was only weeks away from being released, but he now stands accused of punching another inmate in the face and up to 20 years if convicted.

Misael Saez , 44, of Mohawk Forest Boulevard in North Adams, pleaded not guilty on Thursday to a charge of mayhem, which carries a 20-year prison sentence.

According to a Berkshire County Sheriff’s Office report, Saez, who is serving a 90-day sentence for violating an abuse prevention order, walked up to fellow inmate Peter Connors who was using a treadmill. After speaking to him briefly, Saez allegedly punched Connors in the head.

Connors lost his balance and slammed into a metal and concrete window sill. Connors suffered a severe injury to his right eye.

He is now seeing double, has to undergo surgery, and may have permanent damage, according to the report.

After the attack, Saez turned to the security camera and raised his arms "as if in victory over his opponent," according to law enforcement officials who say the incident was caught on tape. The report does not indicate what instigated the alleged attack.

Saez’s attorney, Joshua C. Hochberg, told the court he didn’t believe the report’s description of what happened fit the charged crime and questioned the reliability of the report in regard to the severity of the injury. He asked that a $250 bail be set in the case.

Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Joseph Yorlano asked for $10,000 cash or $100,000 bail citing the severity of the case and Saez’s criminal history, which he said included assaultive behavior and fugitive from justice charges.

Judge Michael J. Ripps set bail at $8,000 cash or $80,000 bail.

Saez is still serving a jail sentence that was handed down in March in Northern Berkshire District Court: 90 days in jail with 33 days credit and a year’s probation.

He is scheduled to be back in court on May 2.