Machete case dismissed after Pittsfield brothers refuse to testify against each other

Thursday November 1, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- A man alleged to have been in a crowbar and machete fight with his brother in May 2011 had his case dismissed on Wednesday after both men refused to testify against each other because they could incriminate themselves.

"I’m taking the Fifth," Paul Kwasniowski told Judge Fredric D. Rutberg as he stood in court wearing hospital pants and shackles next to his attorney Robert D. Sullivan Jr.

Paul Kwasniowski, 56, of Pittsfield, was picked up on a warrant Tuesday at Berkshire Medical Center after failing to show up for his trial that day. It was the second time he had failed to show for a court appearance in the case.

His brother, 60-year-old John Kwasniowski said he would not testify against his brother. But while Paul’s charge of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon was dismissed by the judge because the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office said it would be unable to go forward with the case, the elder Kwasniowski’s case is moving forward. He was charged with the same crime as his brother.

Paul Kwasniowski was released from custody following the dismissal of his charge.

Although the prosecution won’t have Paul Kwasniowski as a witness, there is other evidence they can use at trial -- set for today -- including alleged statements made by John Kwasniowski to police.

On the afternoon of May 18, 2011, a fight broke out between the brothers at 26 Williamsburg Terrace, a home they co-owned. The fight ended with Paul suffering severe wounds including a broken wrist, fingers and nose, as well as a large gash to the head, for which he was hospitalized for several days, police said.

According to a police report, Paul came up behind his older brother with a machete in one hand and a crowbar in the other and threatened to kill him. John, who was under the kitchen sink fixing a pipe at the time, was able to wrestle the crowbar from his brother, which he then used to hit him in the head and hand until Paul dropped the machete.

When police arrived at the scene, they were shocked by what they found. Pittsfield Police Detective Thomas H. Harrington Jr., in his report, called it "one of the bloodiest scenes" he had encountered in his 25-year career.

John Kwasniowski has said that he was attacked by his "violent brother" and was "heartbroken" over what happened.

John, who lives in Las Vegas, is out on $1,000 bail.


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