SPRINGFIELD -- The death of a prosecution witness and partner of one of the victims in a triple murder trial has postponed the opening of evidence by a day.
Willie Haywood Jr., 57, the longtime partner of Robert Chadwell, passed away over the weekend, prompting Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless to ask that the evidentiary portion of David Chalue's trial in Hampden Superior Court be postponed a day so the friends and family -- some of whom are also prosecution witnesses -- could attend the funeral.
Tuesday marked the beginning of jury selection in the case in which police and prosecutors allege Chadwell, along with David Glasser and Edward Frampton, were kidnapped, tortured and killed in August 2011 by Chalue, Adam Lee Hall and Caius Veiovis.
Hall is believed to have killed Glasser to keep him from testifying against him in another case. The other men were killed to eliminate any witnesses, police said.
Haywood took the stand during Hall's trial in late January and recounted his final phone conversation with Chadwell just hours before he and his two friends would go missing.
"He told me he loved me, he missed me and he'd see me soon," recalled Haywood, who had been in New York state at the time of the disappearances.
A tall, gregarious man, Haywood was present for most of Hall's trial after he gave testimony on the first day. He told The Eagle he had planned to attend and testify at both Chalue's and Veiovis' trials.
Haywood said he had been satisfied that Hall was found guilty on most charges and had been given three consecutive life sentences plus 42 years, but that he wouldn't find closure until all three trials were finished.
On Tuesday in Hampden Superior Court, Judge C. Jeffrey Kinder initially wanted to stick to the schedule and asked if Capeless could work around the witnesses who would be at the funeral. Capeless said the postponement wasn't just about the commonwealth's witnesses, but about Chadwell's family who hoped to be present for the first day of evidence in Chalue's trial.
Chalue's attorney, Donald W. Frank, was opposed to the postponement, telling the court that his client was anxious to get the trial started.
Kinder pointed out that Frank had filed a motion that day asking for a postponement himself. Frank countered that his request dealt with his trying to obtain what he considered to be missing evidence.
The judge allowed the DA's motion and the evidentiary portion of the trial will begin Friday instead of Thursday, as originally planned.
As of Tuesday, 10 jurors -- five women and five men -- have been seated out of a total of 16 that are needed.
Among the questions that potential jurors have been asked included one on whether membership in the Aryan Brotherhood or the Hells Angels would affect their ability to be fair jurors. Several responded that they couldn't overlook it.
Hall was a member of the Hells Angels and Chalue says he is a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, a white supremacist prison gang.
Kinder hasn't ruled on how much information about Chalue's ties to the gang will make it to trial.
Testimony is expected from David Casey, who is charged as an accessory to the crimes for helping to bury the victims' remains. The men went missing on Aug. 28, 2011, and their bodies were found almost two weeks later buried in a trench in Becket.
Several jailhouse informants, including Jeffrey Cashman, are expected to testify that Chalue admitted to the killings.
Frank filed a motion Tuesday asking for more information on a polygraph test given to Cashman by the U.S. Marshal's Service in October that was marked "deception indicated" on the report. The attorney was also seeking information on a conversation Cashman had with a detective in which Cashman was asked if he was planning on sabotaging the prosecution's case from the stand. According to the report, Cashman denied this and said he had been truthful during the exam.
The motion was denied by the judge because the Commonwealth represented they had no more information than what they had already turned over to Frank.
Chalue has denied all the charges against him.
His trial was moved from Berkshire County due to pretrial publicity.
Veiovis has been scheduled to go on trial Sept. 2. He has denied the charges.
Follow the trial
Follow The Eagle's Andrew Amelinckx for live coverage of the David Chalue trial at www.berkshireeagle.com.