Update: Key witness in Chalue murder trial released for safety's sake
Editor's note: The story contains graphic content that could be upsetting to some readers.
SPRINGFIELD -- A major prosecution witness in the David Chalue murder trial has been released on personal recognizance after having his bail reduced from $1 million.
David Casey, who is charged with helping to bury the victims' bodies, was released on Thursday in response to a motion filed by Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless and Casey's attorney, Thomas J. Donohue Jr. Capeless said the request for the bail reduction was done for Casey's safety.
"Measures have been taken for his protection," said Capeless, who declined to elaborate. He said similar measures had been taken for other witnesses in the case.
Hampden Superior Court Judge C. Jeffrey Kinder allowed the motion on Thursday after Casey, 65, of Canaan, N.Y., testified against Chalue. The motion was not heard in open court.
Casey had been held in the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction on $1 million bail since his arrest in September 2011 on accessory charges to three counts each of murder, kidnapping and witness intimidation.
On Wednesday and Thursday, Casey recounted how Chalue's co-defendant, Adam Lee Hall, had described the torture, killing and dismemberment of David Glasser, Edward Frampton and Robert Chadwell in late August 2011.
He told the jury that Hall stood over Glasser, holding him by the hair, ready to kill him when his gun jammed and Glasser ran farther into the woods.
"I think he said Davey [Chalue] was on him real quick," Casey told the jury.
Glasser was shot and dragged back to Hall who finished him off, according to Casey's testimony.
It's unclear whether Casey specifically identified Chalue when he took the stand in late January against Hall, who was convicted and sentenced to three life terms. He had testified that "David ran into the woods" but it was unclear to whom he was referring - Glasser or Chalue.
Chalue's trial continued Monday with testimony from several police investigators concerning the recovery of the remains of the three victims on the property of Daniel Cole.
Cole, who lives on Woodmere Road in Becket, took the stand and told the jury Casey had been working on his property in the summer of 2011, doing some rough grading and removal of tree stumps. He had known Casey for several years, he said.
On Monday, Aug. 29, 2011, Cole went to work at 7 a.m. and returned around 5 p.m..
"I noticed muddy tracks going into the woods that weren't there before," he told the jury.
Cole said he saw Casey the following Saturday and asked him about it. "Looks like the machine was moved. Did you move it?" Cole remembers asking him. Casey denied moving it, kicked some rocks and put his head down, he said.
While Cole was away in Florida for his parents' 50th wedding anniversary he said he got a call from police asking if they could search his property, to which he agreed. When he returned on Sept. 12, 2011, "there were a lot of cops there," he said, excavating what turned out to be the burial site of Glasser, Frampton and Chadwell.
Massachusetts State Police Sgt. Christopher Meiklejohn said after he and other members of the Berkshire Detective Unit were given information on Sept. 9, 2011, about where to look for the men's remains, they went to Cole's property and found a spot in the woods that looked as if it had been recently disturbed. While Meiklejohn didn't specify where the information came from, Casey has testified he told police where to look for the bodies.
Meiklejohn said after a cadaver dog helped pinpoint the burial site, they aerated the ground and water with a brownish, fatty like substance "like the top of chicken soup" floated to the surface.
Over the next several days police dug at the site and located a severed human arm and more than a dozen bags containing body parts that were removed, put into biohazard bags and sent to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Boston.
State police Sgt. Brian Berkel was present at the autopsy, which lasted from Sept. 12-14, 2011.
He said X-rays were taken of the bags and one, designated bag 14, was opened up first after the scan revealed three human heads. As the bags were opened and the remains examined the condition of the body parts were wet, muddy, discolored and in the beginning stages of decomposition, Berkel said from the stand.
The bodies were arranged anatomically on gurneys and no body parts were missing, he said.
The clothing had holes that matched the wounds on the bodies, including bullet holes and stab wounds, according to Berkel.
He said four projectiles and a fragment were recovered from the remains.
During the testimony, Chalue, wearing a blue suit jacket and red tie and with reading glasses, conferred with his attorneys, Donald W. Frank and Bonnie Allen, and listened attentively to the witnesses.
The trial continues Tuesday with testimony expected from the medical examiner who performed the autopsies and more police investigators involved in the case.