Freedom official: DA drops Baran case

Tuesday, June 09
PITTSFIELD — Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless said today he will drop the case against Bernard Baran Jr., who spent 21 years in prison on child molestation charges, after an appeals court judge overturned the man's conviction in May.

Capeless' decision, issued at an 11 a.m. press conference, means that Baran is a free man.

Baran, 44, was convicted in 1985 of molesting five young children at the Early Childhood Development Center in Pittsfield. He was sentenced to life in prison but was freed in 2006 when his new legal team successfully argued that his original attorney was incompetent.

The appeals court agreed that Baran's attorney was incompetent and pushed its judgment even further in Baran's favor. It found that a decision to close the courtroom when the children took the stand violated Baran's right to a public trial and, by itself, was sufficient grounds to overturn the guilty verdict.

Perhaps more importantly, the appeals court broached the possibility of prosecutorial misconduct. It said then-Assistant District Attorney Daniel A. Ford — who is now a Superior Court judge — may have inappropriately vouched for witnesses and made improper statements during his closing arguments.


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