So many questions left in Hall case

Sunday December 4, 2011

PITTSFIELD -- Police found the man -- a Dalton resident, 47 years old -- laid out in the back of Adam Lee Hall's truck.

Blood was pooling around him. He'd been stabbed.

It was 2005, and from the hospital where he later was treated for severe lacerations, the man told police that Hall had knifed him after a minor disagreement in a bar.

The Pittsfield Police Department arrested and charged Hall. But eight months later, the lone count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon was dropped at the request of prosecutors, according to court records.

The dismissal was one of 10 violent charges against Hall thrown out by the Berkshire District Attorney's Office before the Peru resident had his first violent run-in with David Glasser in 2009.

Three months ago, police found the remains of Glasser and two of his friends buried in a trench in Becket -- evidence of a murder authorities say Hall committed to silence Glasser, a would-be witness against him in a trial that was pending in Berkshire Superior Court.

Now, prosecutors aren't talking, a police source and court records point to Hall's history of scaring witnesses into recanting, and friends and family members of the victims say they can't help but question whether the tragic homicides might have been avoided had the DA's office more vigorously pursued the earlier cases against Hall.

"I'm really just still so angry about my brother, and wonder, if something had happened a long time ago with this man [Hall], would this ever have happened?" said Carol Chadwell Farrelly, the sister of one of the victims, Robert Chadwell.

Hall -- a ranking member of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang -- and two alleged accomplices have been charged with murdering Glasser, Chadwell and their friend, Edward Frampton.

Hall is being held without bail in the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction awaiting trial, which likely will start next summer or fall.

While police say Chadwell and Frampton were in the wrong place at the wrong time, Glasser was at the center of the storm when the three were abducted in August from the Pittsfield apartment shared by Glasser and Frampton.

In 2009, Glasser agreed to become a witness against Hall on drug, weapons and assault charges after Hall accused Glasser of stealing a carburetor and beat him with a baseball bat, authorities say. Afterward, according to police records, Hall told Glasser he would kill him if he went to authorities.

Before that 2009 incident, police brought charges against Hall for alleged stabbings, beatings and kidnappings. Many of the accusations were backed by seemingly damning police reports that detailed vivid eyewitness accounts and identified the alleged perpetrator as Hall.

In all, only two violent charges against him ever stuck, netting Hall one year in the county jail in 1997.

No victims connected to the 10 charges could be located for comment for this story, and a Hall attorney contacted by The Eagle declined to comment. Meanwhile, the District Attorney's Office, which has a reputation among local lawyers for doggedly pursuing even the most minor charges, also declined to talk about the dismissals.

After initially ignoring requests for comment by The Eagle, District Attorney David Capeless eventually responded through his spokesman with a one-sentence statement explaining his decision.

"It would be inappropriate for the DA to comment about any possible criminal record or prior cases involving a defendant who has pending criminal charges," Fred Lantz, the office's media liaison, said by phone in October.

The Eagle followed with a public-records request seeking case files and notes relating to the cases in question, and Capeless' office responded with a denial.

In a letter explaining the refusal to disclose the records, Capeless' office held that the documents are privileged under an investigative exemption to the state's public-records statute.

"Information contained within the case files you requested is potentially relevant to prove the commonwealth's case in these matters," wrote Assistant District Attorney Joseph A. Pieropan.

However, even as the DA's office asserted that the records are protected as part of an ongoing investigation -- a stance lawyers contacted by The Eagle say is questionable -- his office implied that it hadn't studied the documents before The Eagle requested them.

Upon receiving the initial request for records, a member of Capeless' staff said the records would take time to retrieve because they were all in "deep storage."

The Eagle has filed an appeal of Capeless' denial with the state supervisor of records. The court records that are available, however, detail the extent to which Hall's violent reputation was well-established long before his name made national headlines in connection with the triple slaying earlier this year.

In the 2005 case involving the 47-year-old stabbing victim, he allegedly was dragged out of the Crossroads Bar in Pittsfield by Hall after the man got into an argument with the bartender over an unpaid tab, according to police records.

Hall overheard the disagreement and stepped in.

"Hall approached [the man] and told him, ‘This is [the Hells Angels'] bar, and you are a punk. Get out,' " according to the police report on file in Central Berkshire District Court.

(The Eagle has decided not to publish the man's name in order to protect his privacy in an incident involving a person charged in a triple murder.)

The man later told police he remembered being kicked and punched, then saw Hall stab him in the arm before he lost consciousness. The next thing he remembered was waking up in the bed of Hall's pick-up truck, which by that point was surrounded by police, according to records.

The victim then was sent to the hospital with severe lacerations and possible internal injuries. The case eventually was dismissed at the request of prosecutors, according to court records.

A year later, Hall was charged again in connection with another beating at the Crossroads. This time, police said Hall had attacked a
46-year-old Pittsfield man simply because he didn't like the car the man was driving.

According to records, Hall, wearing the colors of the Hells Angels, loudly asked who owned the green Jaguar parked outside.

The man responded.

"I owned the car, so I put my hand out to shake his hand and he punched me in the face approximately five times," the man told police, according to a statement the victim signed.

The man got dragged outside, according to records, where he took more blows and was kicked repeatedly in the head, groin, back and ribs. The man later picked Hall out of a photo lineup prepared by the officers.

The charge of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon ultimately was dismissed, again at the request of prosecutors.

According to court records, other cases filed by police against Hall and dropped later by prosecutors include:

A 2006 incident in which Hall almost hit a pedestrian with his car while driving down North Street in Pittsfield. Hall, according to police, stopped the car after the near miss and got out, brandishing a pair of bolt cutters. The pedestrian ran away and Hall threw the tool, narrowly missing the fleeing man. Prosecutors dismissed the charge of assault with a dangerous weapon in 2008.

In 2003, Hall apparently was bothered that two strangers had blown an air horn out of their apartment window as he was driving by in his car. Hall and another man, identified as a fellow Hells Angel, stopped the car, backed up, and got out. Yelling obscene, profane threats, Hall started banging on the men's apartment door with a ball-peen hammer. Police arrived and filed charges: two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon. Both counts were dismissed at the request of prosecutors.

In 1997, prosecutors did not pursue one count each of kidnapping and assault to maim. In connection to the same incident, two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon were not prosecuted. A police report detailing the incident was not available.

Likewise, a 2000 charge of unarmed robbery was dismissed by prosecutors. Again, police reports relative to the charges were not immediately available.

In addition to the above cases, in which Hall was formally charged in court, police records document numerous other criminal allegations against him -- from starting wild fights to forcing women into prostitution.

In an example of the latter, witnesses told police that, in 2007, Hall coerced three women into engaging in sexual acts with his acquaintances for money, which Hall would keep most of, according to an affidavit filed in Central Berkshire District Court.

In an example of the latter, witnesses told police that, in 2007, Hall coerced three women into engaging in sexual acts with his acquaintances for money, which Hall would keep most of, according to an affidavit filed in Central Berkshire District Court.

The document details how, when the women told Hall they wanted to quit, Hall responded: "You work for me now; there's no way out." According to witnesses, "The girls never looked happy about having to have the sex, but did it out of fear of physical harm from Hall if they refused."

Since Capeless took over as Berkshire District Attorney in 2004, after DA Gerard Downing died in December 2003, the office hasn't successfully won a guilty finding in a single violent case against Hall.

The lone felony conviction against him in Berkshire County came under Downing in 1997, when Hall was found guilty of two counts of assault and battery and served a year in the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction.

Asked about the dropped cases, police and court employees interviewed by The Eagle said Hall's name and violent reputation have been established in law-enforcement circles for years. The police source who said Hall long has been known for intimidating witnesses spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Court records in some cases, meanwhile, show that prosecutors had a difficult time getting witnesses to follow through with testimony in court.

In the case of the stabbing victim, a note on the docket says police "lost contact with witness." Likewise, a note attached to the 2006 case where Hall allegedly assaulted the pedestrian, a docket note says simply: "Witness failed to cooperate."

More explicitly, in a case never pursued by prosecutors, a man who said Hall had beaten and robbed him in 2009 told a grand jury in Berkshire Superior Court that he was reluctant to report the crime to police "out of fear of being killed by Hall and/or his associates," according to police records.

The statement echoes fears that Glasser voiced to police when he first began providing statements to them about Hall's alleged crimes and twice inquired about the availability of a witness protection program.

Family members of the victims in the triple homicide say Capeless -- already dogged by accusations that he didn't do enough to protect Glasser as he was poised to testify -- owes them an explanation as to why earlier charges against Hall weren't pursued.

"Why would people keep seeing a certain person doing the same thing again and again and again let nothing happen?" said Chadwell Farrelly, Robert Chadwell's sister.

Glasser's friends, too, question why, if authorities apparently were aware of Hall's history of intimidating witnesses, they did so little to protect the one man willing to go to court to testify against him.

Despite Capeless' statements that Glasser was temporarily relocated twice at the prosecutor's suggestion, the victim's closest friends, including Donna Randolph, whom Glasser called "Ma," insist nothing was ever done to protect him. Instead, they say, Glasser pleaded with authorities for help, but to no avail.

"There should be something in the files that should prove what they really did," Randolph said. "I would expect there would be receipts for relocating him, but evidently, they have no proof. That doesn't seem to say much about it being the truth, does it?"

Capeless continues to decline The Eagle's requests to provide more details about -- or evidence of -- how his office sought to protect Glasser. Meanwhile, friends and family of the victims say Capeless' refusal to be forthcoming with them throws into question his ability to convict Hall and his alleged accomplices this time around.

"If I were to see [Capeless], my question to him would be: ‘What are you scared of? What's holding you back from doing your job?' " Chadwell Farrelly said. "These aren't just fly-by-night things -- these are serious charges. For them to all get dismissed? Something's not right somewhere, and I want to know where it's at."

To reach Ned Oliver:
or (413) 496-6240.
On Twitter: @BE_NedOliver


If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions