SPRINGFIELD -- David Chalue bragged about kidnapping, torturing, killing and cutting up three Pittsfield men in August 2011, according to the Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless.
During his opening arguments in Hampden Superior Court on Friday, Capeless outlined his case against Chalue, who is facing multiple charges for allegedly killing David Glasser, Edward Frampton and Robert Chadwell with the help of Adam Lee Hall and Caius Veiovis.
"Over two and a half years ago, when we charged the defendant and his accomplices with the murder, we knew we would have to prove the charges in court," Capeless told the jury "For David Chalue, that day has come."
Chalue, 47, of North Adams, helped kidnap and kill the men and later assisted in the attempts to cover up the crimes including acting as a lookout while Hall and another man, David Casey, buried the victims' remains, Capeless said.
Hall, 37, of Pittsfield, was convicted of murder and kidnapping charges in February and sentenced to three consecutive life terms with no hope of parole. Veiovis, 32, also of Pittsfield, remains in jail awaiting his trial scheduled for September.
Capeless said the best evidence against Chalue and the others came from people the defendants thought were "too scared or too loyal to testify," including fellow members of the Aryan Brotherhood, a white supremacist prison gang.
After his arrest and while awaiting trial, Chalue bragged about the "gruesome crimes" to four other inmates and even threatened to do the same to someone else, Capeless said.
The DA told the jury two of the witnesses who would take the stand were involved with the gang and that Chalue admitted to the killings. When the defendant found out one of those men - Jeffrey Cashman - was planning to testify against him, he threatened his life.
"They are scared and they expect protection and help on some of their cases," said Capeless, but were given no other promises.
Chalue's attorney, Donald W. Frank, told the jury they heard a lot of stories from the DA's Office but that much of it isn't substantiated.
He said much of the case predates when his client was even hanging around Hall "as did many people." The lawyer said Chalue has no connection to any one of these victims and wasn't involved with the Hells Angels, the motorcycle gang that Hall was a member of.
Of any connections with the Aryan Brotherhood, Frank said it had nothing to do with the case.
The jailhouse informants were only looking for "government handouts - not money, but freedom," and were unreliable, he said.
Frank said he was confident the jury would find Chalue not guilty "because he is not guilty."
The prosecution's case on Friday focused on Aug. 26-28, 2011, when the three victims went missing as Tropical Storm Irene hit the Berkshires. The prosecution also went back to the events of July 2009 between Hall and Glasser that they say precipitated the murders.
Among those who took the stand were Erin Forbush, Frampton's caseworker, and Chadwell's brother, Leslie Chadwell.
Forbush said she had worked with Frampton for about three years by August 2011, helping him with his medical appointments and finances. She saw him once or twice a week and spoke on the phone with him frequently.
She said she spoke with him that Friday about an upcoming medical appointment. When she came to work Monday there was no messages from him on her phone, which was unusual, she said.
Forbush was concerned and went over to Frampton and Glasser's Linden Street home. Once there she noticed Glasser's truck was in the driveway and the television was on but no one answered her repeated knocking.
Forbush later returned with her coworker, Heather Ethier, and they were able to get in the house when they realized the back door was unlocked. Ethier, who also testified Friday, said there was a cushion on the floor which she found strange. His wallet was there and Frampton's calendar hadn't been marked off past that Saturday.
Forbush said it was also very strange that Frampton would have gone off and not cared for his pet.
"He had a cat named Princess. That cat meant everything to him," she said.
That Wednesday, they filed a missing persons report for the two men, according to Forbush.
Leslie Chadwell said he last saw his brother, who lived with him, that Friday. He said his brother had planned to go stay with his daughter that weekend. On that Sunday, he got a call from Willie Haywood Jr., Robert Chadwell's partner who was out of town, asking if he head seen or heard from Robert. He said he hadn't but called around looking for him. He eventually went to Frampton and Glasser's home, which was on the same street. Leslie Chadwell said the television was on but no one answered the door.
Haywood, who testified at Hall's trial, was listed as a witness for this trial but passed away recently.
Under cross examination by Frank, Lisa Archambeault, the upstairs neighbor of Glasser and Frampton, said she had heard a loud argument between Frampton and another man on that Saturday and "assumed it was about drugs."
According to Capeless, it was a misunderstanding about some car parts that set the course that would eventually end up in the murders of Glasser and his two friends. In July 2009, Glasser, who sometimes did odd jobs for Hall, took some metal, including a carburetor, to a scrap yard to sell. The parts came from Hall's garage and Glasser was given permission to remove the items by Hall's "brother" Richard Stansen, according to testimony. Hall believed Glasser had stolen the items and lured him to his Peru residence where he beat him, said Capeless.
Brittany Beggs, Hall's former girlfriend and the mother of his child, Thor, said from the stand that she witnessed Hall standing over a cowering Glasser with a baseball bat in his hand and saw him hit Glasser with it.
She herself is facing charges relate to that incident, she said.
Frank didn't spend a lot of time cross-examining the witness as these events predated the time his client had any contact with Hall.
Monday will include testimony about a plan Hall cooked up involving a faked armed robbery in upstate New York and other schemes to try to discredit Glasser as a witness in his upcoming trial, Capeless said.