Update: Ex-girlfriend says Chalue tossed items into Housatonic River days after killings
SPRINGFIELD - David Chalue's former girlfriend testified on Thursday that she saw Chalue throw items off a bridge over the Housatonic River days after he allegedly helped kill three Pittsfield men.
Ocean Sutton, 24, said on Aug. 29, 2011, she was riding in a car with Chalue and his co-defendant Adam Lee Hall when they stopped at a bridge in Lenox Dale. Hall, from the driver's seat, began throwing items into the river.
Hall told Chalue to get out of the car, and when some of the items fell short, Chalue threw them over the bridge, she said. Sutton told the jury in Hampden County Superior Court there was a shoe box, socks and several bags.
After Chalue got back in the car, he and Hall had a conversation, but Sutton, who was clear about not wanting to testify for the prosecution, said she couldn't remember what was said.
Even after Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless tried to refresh her memory with her previous statement, she said she couldn't remember what Chalue and Hall were talking about. The DA was then allowed to read Sutton's previous testimony at the Hall trial to the jury in which she testified the two men said that the items "should carry so they wouldn't find them."
She said she and Chalue had been in a relationship and that he stayed with her in North Adams for several weeks until he was arrested. She said after his arrest they wrote to one another but eventually they stopped.
During her testimony, she shook her head back and forth and sighed loudly. It didn't appear she and Chalue made much eye contact if any while she was on the stand.
Two other witnesses, Joseph Burke and Joseph Hynes, said they witnessed a man with a shaved head and muscular build jump out of a blue Hyundai stopped on the Veterans Memorial Bridge in Lenox Dale and throw what appeared to be sneakers, a shirt, towel and pants into the river. At the time, Chalue had a shaved head, according to previous testimony.
Burke said he went over to look at the river, didn't see anything, but said the river was rushing by very fast.
Police later did a search of the area, found two pieces of a shoe box and were able to trace the box to a transaction at Walmart involving Hall. He bought a pair of work boots and socks on the night of Aug. 29, 2011.
Marcia Musiak, a greeter at the Walmart in Pittsfield, said she saw a man walking out of the store with tags on his boots and asked him for his receipt. Hall told her he changed his shoes and socks inside the store because his old ones were completely soaked, she testified.
Surveillance video from the store shows Hall making the purchase with Chalue in tow.
Chalue is accused of killing David Glasser, Edward Frampton and Robert Chadwell in August 2011 with the assistance of Hall and Caius Veiovis. The victims' dismembered bodies were found about two weeks later buried in a shallow trench in Becket.
Hall was convicted in February and sentenced to three consecutive life terms in prison. Veiovis is expected to go to trial in September.
Under cross-examination by Chalue's attorney, Donald W. Frank, Sutton said there was no gun among the items and that the bags were clear and she was able to see into them.
Thursday's proceedings began with co-defendant David Casey admitting he didn't make any mention of David Chalue to police for weeks, that Hall hadn't told him who else was involved in the crimes and that he lied to police about the extent of his own involvement in the burial of the victims' remains.
Under cross-examination, Casey said he didn't mention to police that Chalue was present at Alan Pavoni's property in Becket just before Casey and Hall buried the bodies on a property in the same town. He admitted he didn't say anything because it "wasn't important."
Casey said he didn't recall that Hall had possibly told him that Chalue was involved in the killings until much later, at which time he told police.
In previous testimony at the Hall trial, Casey said Hall hadn't told him about who else was involved.
During redirect examination on Thursday, Capeless had Casey look over his previous testimony and then asked him if he recalled testifying that
"David ran into the woods." Casey responded he did recall saying that at the previous trial. It was unclear to whom -- David Chalue or David Glasser -- Casey was referring.
Both The Eagle and the Springfield Republican reported during the Hall trial that Casey had said "someone else" ran after Glasser, but didn't specify anyone by name.
The witness also admitted he didn't initially tell police he had been the person who helped dig a hole with his excavator and bury the bodies.
Casey is charged as an accessory to the crimes and admitted he was "miserable" in jail and was hoping to get some "consideration" from the DA's Office for his cooperation.
Thursday also saw testimony from Jason Hassan Sr., who used to work at Sayers' Auto Wrecking. He said on Aug. 29, 2011, Hall and another man who he didn't know came to junk a tan Buick Century with some front end damage. This is the same car Casey alleged the victims' remains had been stored in. Hassan said the back seat had been ripped out, the trunk was down to the bare metal and the floor was soaking wet.
Surveillance video shows a person that appears to be Chalue there to pick Hall up after the Buick was crushed.
The Buick seemed to be running fine, said Hassan. "Nothing unusual," he said. "There was a little fender damage."
Under cross-examination, he said Hall came to the yard fairly often to scrap metal and cars and that some people remove the back seat before scrapping vehicles.
Because of Judge C. Jeffrey Kinder's schedule, the trial will continue Monday.
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