Trial set for Lee man, but plea deal possible

Thursday November 1, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- The trial of a 32-year-old Lee man, accused of breaking into a residence and attacking his ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend last year, is scheduled for November in Berkshire Superior Court, but he may end up pleading out before then, according to his lawyer.

Justin Steele and his attorney Jill Sheldon went before Superior Court Judge John A. Agostini on Tuesday.

"We're hoping to resolve [the case] short of trial," Sheldon told the court.

According to Sheldon, the hope is to work out a plea deal with Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Richard M. Locke. But one of the charges -- armed home invasion -- is a sticking point, according to Sheldon.

Sheldon said if a plea deal cannot be reached, they would be taking that charge to trial and Steele would likely plead out to two others, assault with a dangerous weapon and assault and battery, which are less serious charges than home invasion.

According to police and prosecutors, Steele broke into a Pittsfield residence on Linden Street and attacked his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend while they slept.

Steele allegedly swung a knife at the new boyfriend and punched his ex-girlfriend in the face several times. The boyfriend then got the upper hand and put Steele in a "mixed martial arts type choke hold" until police arrived, according to a police report.

Both Steele and his ex-girlfriend were taken to Berkshire Medical Center, where they were treated and released.

Steele, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges, has been held in jail on $100,000 bail for more than a year awaiting the outcome of his case.


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