Homeless man facing manslaughter charge in fatal Pittsfield beating


PITTSFIELD — A homeless man is facing manslaughter charges in the wake of the Sept. 18 beating that caused the death of a city man.

Brian Signor, 27, is accused of attacking Joseph Wirtes, 44, in his apartment at the Pittsfield Family YMCA on Sept. 18.

An autopsy conducted by Dr. Robert Welton, an associate medical examiner for the state, determined that Wirtes died as a result of blunt trauma, according to a release from the office of Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless. The case is now being considered a homicide.

Wirtes was found unconscious and bleeding from the nose early in the morning of Sept. 18. He was transported to Berkshire Medical Center, where he died a short time later.

He suffered numerous injuries, including a broken nose, broken eye socket and a host of cuts and bruises. Medical personnel also detected internal injuries.

According to a report filed by Pittsfield Police, emergency responders were dispatched to the man's North Street apartment based on a 911 call about an unresponsive male.

The female caller told police that she, Signor and Wirtes had been in the apartment, rented by Wirtes. They had all been drinking heavily, the caller stated.

The woman told police she had witnessed Signor punch and choke Wirtes before she eventually left the apartment. The caller told officials that when she returned, Wirtes was in his apartment, unconscious and bleeding.

Signor, she told police, was gone.

A second witness told police there appeared to be some kind of altercation in the apartment about 1:45 a.m.

Police obtained surveillance footage from the building that showed Signor coming and going from the building. In addition, the footage showed the 911 caller's entries and exits. The footage, according to the report, showed no one else entering and leaving the building during that time frame.

Signor was arrested without incident about 4:50 p.m. that day, the report said. He remains held on $50,000 bail.

In the report, police noted that Signor's clothes appeared to be the same ones displayed in the surveillance video. He also had blood on his hands, according to a preliminary test.

While Signor gave no official statement, police said, he conceded in an emotional outburst that he and Wirtes had been involved in a fight.

Signor was arraigned in Central Berkshire District Court on Sept. 19 on one count of aggravated assault and battery with intent to cause serious bodily injury.

He is expected to be arraigned on the new charge at a later date, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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