3 men charged with breaking into man's apartment, beating him


PITTSFIELD — A city man called police Wednesday night after he heard his neighbor stop playing his drums and start yelling for help.

Three men — Duane C. Cassavaugh, 31, of Pittsfield, Derek M. Laroche, 29, of Cheshire, and Colin Mellett, 19, of Stephentown, N.Y. — were arrested for allegedly assaulting the man.

The victim told police Cassavaugh and Laroche came into his apartment uninvited and Cassavaugh "sucker punched" him and ordered him to keep away from his girlfriend's house or he would cut him up and kill him.

Laroche also punched the victim several times before both left the apartment, according to the victim's statement.

Cassavaugh and Laroche told police the victim had taken Cassavaugh's wallet. Police later found that wallet during an inventory search of the van in which the three suspects had traveled.

According to a police report and witness statements, when officers first arrived after the call they found Cassavaugh and Laroche outside the building near the van that was described to them and Mellett still inside the victim's apartment.

Mellett told police he was visiting the victim and was trying to find a cross he said he'd left in the apartment.

The victim had a much different story, telling police Cassavaugh and Laroche left after attacking and threatening him and he locked his door behind them.

A few minutes later, the group returned, banging on his door.

When they couldn't get in, Mellett cut a window screen and climbed into the apartment.

Mellett allegedly started attacking the victim while the other two men goaded him on from outside the apartment.

The victim defended himself against Mellett's attack with a drumstick and began yelling for help, with police arriving soon after.

All three men were charged with nighttime breaking and entering into a building to commit a felony and assault and battery on a person over 60 or disabled.

Mellett picked up an extra charge of vandalism for allegedly cutting the window screen.

The men entered not guilty pleas to their respective charges in Central Berkshire District Court on Thursday before Judge William Rota.

Rota released Cassavaugh and Laroche on their own recognizance and set $1,000 bail for Mellett, which was posted.

All three men were ordered to remain away from the alleged victim and his home and are all due back in court on Aug. 24 for pretrial hearings.

Contact Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249.


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