Next Pittsfield triple murder trial also in Hampden County
PITTSFIELD -- The trial of accused murderer David Chalue will be held in the same Springfield courtroom where his co-defendant, Adam Lee Hall, was convicted last month.
A judge on Tuesday denied three motions by Chalue's attorney -- including a request to move the trial from Hampden County Superior Court to Hampshire, Worcester or any county east of there.
Donald W. Frank said pretrial publicity in Hampden County has been "extensive, continuos and prejudicial" and would deprive his client of a fair trial. He mentioned articles and live blogs from The Berkshire Eagle and Masslive as well as a number of stories from regional television stations as having affected the potential jury pool.
The trial had already been moved from Berkshire County due to pretrial publicity.
"After hearing and consideration of the pleadings and exhibits, I am not persuaded that there exists in Hampden County so great a prejudice against the defendant that he could not there obtain a fair and impartial trial," Hampden Superior Court Judge C. Jeffrey Kinder wrote.
Chalue, 46, of North Adams, is charged with helping Adam Lee Hall and Caius Veiovis kidnap, torture and kill David Glasser, Edward Frampton and Robert Chadwell in August 2011. A motion hearing is scheduled for April 11 in the case.
Hall is serving three consecutive life sentences without parole plus up to 42 years after being convicted of three counts of first-degree murder and other charges. Veiovis' trial has been scheduled to begin Sept. 2.
The judge also denied Frank's motion to prevent the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction from "interfering with investigation and trial preparation."
The attorney asked the judge to allow defense investigators to interview witnesses at the facility without officials there first contacting the former and current lawyers of the witnesses for permission.
Frank wrote that there were a number of witnesses that have been recently discovered by the defense that are housed at the facility and the sheriff's department -- which he said has been "intimately involved" in the investigation into the triple slayings -- has begun enforcing a rule "designed to impede" the defense's access to evidence in violation of Chalue's civil rights.
He argued that while there is a sign posted at the facility stating that attorneys have to inform staff if they do not represent an inmate they want to interview, there is nothing posted about investigators being so required. Frank said that on previous occasions defense investigators have been allowed access to incarcerated witnesses without the permission of their attorneys.
Kinder ruled that he would not interfere in how the BCOC runs its facility, citing Supreme Court cases in which it was determined "that correctional officials are entitled to substantial deference in implementing rules and providing for institutional security."
The judge did agree to move Chalue to the Hampden County House of Correction on April 7. The defendant is currently being held at the Souza-Baronowski Correctional Center in Shirley, about two hours away from Frank's office. Frank said it had been an undue burden going back and forth as they prepare for trial set for April 22.
Kinder also denied a request from Frank to allow the jury to view several locations associated with the case, including a home in Becket where it's alleged the remains of the victims were stored in the trunk of a car overnight before being buried in a trench at another location in Becket. The attorney asked that the jury be allowed to view that site as well.
Frank also wanted the jury to see the segregation unit of the BCOC because several jailhouse informants that are likely to testify for the prosecution at trial alleged having conversations with Chalue there. The attorney argued that other means besides viewing the unit "do not adequately demonstrate the improbability the defendant made such statements without them being overheard by every other person in the... unit, including the officers in said unit."
Kinder wrote that he wasn't "persuaded that the evidence regarding the locations" couldn't be adequately described through testimony and other means.
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