PITTSFIELD -- A reversal of position by Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless could open the way for separate trials for three men accused of the kidnapping and killing three others in August 2011.
On Friday during a daylong motion hearing in Hampden Superior Court, Capeless said that because of new evidence from the police investigation, he believes it makes sense to separately try the cases of Adam Lee Hall, David Chalue and Caius Veiovis. This is an about-face from his previous position that three separate cases would unduly burden taxpayers.
The attorneys representing the men had argued for separate trials for various reasons, including that statements allegedly made by one or more of the defendants could possibly implicate the other men.
Judge C. Jeffrey Kinder has not yet ruled on whether the men will receive separate trials. Although it is a Berkshire County case, Friday's hearing was held in Springfield where Kinder, who is overseeing the sprawling proceedings, mainly sits.
If allowed, Capeless said he would try Hall first, followed by Chalue and finally Veiovis.
James Gavin Reardon Jr., who represents Veiovis, argued that his client's case should be tried first because there is less evidence against Veiovis.
He reiterated a statement he has previously made. "My client has been held in solitary confinement for two years and it could be another half-year at least. He has a right to a trial," Reardon told the court.
Capeless said Hall's trial could last up to six weeks. He did not give an estimate on the other two. The original trial date was set by Kinder for January.
Police allege Hall was a ranking member of the local Hells Angels when he, Chalue and Veiovis kidnapped David Glasser, Edward Frampton and Robert Chadwell from Glasser and Frampton's Pittsfield home sometime in the early hours of Aug. 28, 2011 in the midst of Tropical Storm Irene and then killed them.
The men's remains were later discovered buried in a shallow pit on private property in Becket.
Glasser was killed to prevent him from testifying against Hall in an upcoming case and the other two were killed because they were potential witnesses, according to police and prosecutors.
On Friday, Hall, sporting a long goatee, seemed relaxed during the hearing. The 36-year-old Peru resident chatted with guards and Veiovis, and smiled at several of the witnesses who took the stand. Chalue sat slightly apart from the other two men.
Chalue has ties to the Aryan Brotherhood, a white supremacist prison gang, and was previously in jail at the same time as Hall, according to Massachusetts State Police Capt.
Smith, who heads up the Massachusetts State Police Berkshire Detective Unit, was on the stand for several hours Friday answering questions concerning what the defense asserts was a warrantless search of Veiovis' Jeep on Sept. 4, 2011.
According to Smith, police approached Hall, Veiovis and Chalue when the men stopped to refuel at a Pittsfield gas station. The men were not placed under arrest, said Smith, but were held there for about an hour.
Smith said they seized Hall's boots and socks, the men's telephones and Veiovis' Jeep as evidence and then later searched the vehicle after getting a warrant.
Hall's lawyer, Alan J. Black, questioned Smith on what the lawyer said was an "interrogation" of his client without reading him his Miranda warnings. The lawyer said Smith didn't stop even after Hall told the investigator to speak to his lawyer if he wanted any answers.
Smith characterized it as a "conversation" and said Hall continued to speak with him without being prompted.
"You know who I am and what I do," Hall allegedly told Smith.
Testimony on Friday also concerned alleged statements made by Hall and Chalue, 46, of North Adams, that Capeless alleges implicates the two men in the murders.
On Aug. 30, 2011, two days after the three victims disappeared, Hall and Chalue were drinking at the Hells Angels clubhouse on Woodland Road in Lee, according to Alexandra Ely, the former girlfriend of Hall, who took the stand Friday.
She said the two men were "drinking and joking about someone running from them" she told the court. She said they were both laughing about it.
Another woman, Rose Dawson, who was there that night, refused to answer any questions Friday under the advice of her attorney.
Black and Chalue's lawyer, Donald W. Frank, asked the judge to suppress the statements because they said their clients were drunk at the time.
Hall later sent a letter to a friend in which he wrote that the overheard conversation had been misconstrued and likened it to the children's game of "telephone."
Ely is herself facing kidnapping and other charges from an earlier case in which Hall is a codefendant. She told the court she was not promised any deals by the DA.
All three men have pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of murder, kidnapping and witness intimidation and are being held without bail in various jails around the state.
A fourth defendant, 64-year-old David Casey, of Canaan, N.Y., is charged as an accessory and remains in jail on $1 million bail. Police say Hall intimidated Casey into helping bury the men's remains with his excavator.
The hearing for Hall, Chalue and Veiovis will continue on Oct. 28.
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