Prosecutor: Pittsfield rape a calculated attack by released inmate

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PITTSFIELD >> Moments before she was sexually assaulted repeatedly, a city woman awoke in the early morning of March 24, 2012, to find Jeffrey Vigiard in her room, wearing socks on his hands, prosecutors said Wednesday.

But Vigiard's attorney, James Goodhines, told jurors his client has been wrongfully accused and an incomplete police investigation has incorrectly identified him as the woman's assailant.

"He's innocent," Goodhines said. "He didn't do these things."

Opening statements were presented in Berkshire Superior Court on Wednesday in Vigiard's trial on charges of aggravated rape, witness intimidation, burglary, assault and nighttime felony breaking and entering.

Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Robert W. Kinzer III, told jurors the victim had been house-sitting for a few days when she went to sleep while her young child slept in a portable crib at the foot of the bed.

Vigiard, a Pittsfield man who had just been released from a New York jail after serving time on a larceny charge, knew the regular residents of the apartment wouldn't be home, Kinzer said. He knew the residents well enough to ask them for a ride back from New York after his release and was told they couldn't oblige, because they would be away on vacation.

And he had enough knowledge of the layout of the property to have disabled a motion-sensor light at the back of the house before making his way inside, Kinzer said.

Once inside, Vigiard repeatedly assaulted the woman while she cried and asked him to stop.

He allegedly told the woman not to scream or he would kill her, while speaking in what was described as a faux-Spanish accent.

Vigiard told the woman not to look at him during the attack and the woman never got a clear look at his face, Kinzer said, but she did recall other characteristics.

After the assaults, Vigiard told the woman to not call for help or leave the house or, "he would know," and track down and kill everyone in the house.

The attacker also checked the woman's ID in order to obtain her correct address after she told him she didn't live there and was only watching the home, Kinzer said.

After Vigiard left, Kinzer said, the woman grabbed her child and sought help. First, knocking on doors and receiving no response, then flagging down cars, the third of which stopped and gave her a ride to a nearby gas station, where she contacted police.

The woman underwent a sexual assault examination at Berkshire Medical Center, where DNA evidence was collected from her hair, Kinzer said. A profile developed from that sample identified Vigiard as the source.

Kinzer said the overall investigation into the attack was exhaustive and said the state may call up to 20 witnesses to testify at trial.

Goodhines disputed the notion of an exhaustive investigation, noting for jurors several things he said investigators failed to do.

He said some leads in the case weren't fully pursued and the victim's description of her assailant doesn't match Vigiard.

The early description of the attacker was that of a Hispanic male, he said, and the notion of his speaking with a false accent in order to disguise his voice only came about after Vigiard was linked to the case through the DNA testing.

A composite image of the attacker never was created nor was the victim asked to identify potential suspects from a photo array, Goodhines said.

A defense witness will say they saw and were with Vigiard at the time of the attack, Goodhines said.

He said Vigiard and the victim knew each other and he asked the jury to consider why, in that case, would he not have covered his face to avoid identification rather than rely on her to keep her eyes closed and not look at him.

He also suggested the crime scene was not secure and other pieces of evidence, including bloody tissues and a pair of sweatpants, were not thoroughly considered by investigators.

Goodhines explained away the prosecution's DNA evidence by suggesting Vigiard's DNA was already on the socks the attacker was wearing on their hands and the evidence was transferred to the victim when her hair was grabbed.

He acknowledged the assault took place, but maintained Vigiard wasn't responsible.

"She didn't deserve what happened to her," he said. "No one deserves those circumstances to occur."

Testimony in the trial continues Thursday.

If convicted, Vigiard faces up to life in prison.

Contact Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249.


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