Update: No DNA or prints found to link Chalue to murders, witnesses say
SPRINGFIELD -- No DNA or fingerprint evidence linked David Chalue to the murder of three Pittsfield men, according to testimony Wednesday in Hampden Superior Court.
Trooper Michael O'Neil told the jury in Chalue's murder trial that he was unable to get any fingerprints or only partial, unusable prints, from most of the evidence tested in the case. This included a gun cleaning kit taken from the Hells Angels clubhouse in Lee and a Jack Daniels whiskey bottle found at the Daniel Cole property in Becket, where the remains of David Glasser, Edward Frampton and Robert Chadwell were discovered, he said.
The plastic bags in which the remains were found were covered in soil and other debris and were oily, said the witness, and he was unable to get any prints from them.
According to O'Neil, there are several factors that can prevent fingerprint evidence from being obtained, from the presence of water to the type of surface that was touched.
He said they were able to get usable prints from several water bottles found in the Jeep of Chalue's co-defendant, Caius Veiovis, which were matched to Chalue, Veiovis and the third defendant, Adam Lee Hall.
Under cross-examination, it was revealed a fourth set of fingerprints matching those of Eric Fox, were found on a water bottle, also taken from the Jeep.
Fox isn't facing charges, but was identified as being with Veiovis allegedly doing "counter surveillance" on the DA's Office and shopping with Veiovis at the Home Depot when it's alleged the men asked for directions to where the saws were kept.
Jessica Hart, a DNA analyst at the state police crime lab, also testified Wednesday, telling the jury there was no DNA evidence linking Chalue, 47, or the other two defendants, to the crimes.
She said in some cases there wasn't enough DNA present to test items, including a black tank top and a piece of floor mat from the dark blue Elantra that was connected to the case.
The whiskey bottle also had too little DNA present to be tested while several firearms found during a search of the Hells Angels clubhouse didn't have any DNA of the defendants, she said.
Hart said there were difficulties with some of the evidence tested because of their condition, especially those related to the victims' remains. She said they even had trouble getting a blood sample from two of the victims because there wasn't enough blood and had to resort to extracting DNA from their bones.
In going through the case, there were difficulties, including degradation of samples, she said, with the DNA strands starting to fall apart.
She told the jury that wearing gloves would help keep a person's DNA off of items they handled.
Wednesday afternoon saw testimony that Chalue and Hall's cellphones were used in the area where the victims' remains were found in Becket. The time and day matched up with information given by David Casey about burying the bodies, according to testimony.
Trooper Kevin Hart said he extracted information from a cellphone belonging to Chalue and discovered texts that were sent to Hall on Aug. 29, 2011.
The first message to Hall, sent at 11:58 a.m., read: "Hey what's going on" The second, sent at 12:33 p.m., read: "Dude, I'm ready to leave, I don't know what to tell you."
Special FBI Agent Eric Perry also took the stand and said that through call detail records and other techniques he was able to determine that both Hall and Chalue's phones were in the Becket area at the time in question.
He said in his opinion the evidence shows Hall was at the Daniel Cole residence at the time Casey had alleged.
In the case of Chalue, Perry believes that the evidence shows he was both at the Alan Pavoni residence, where the bodies had allegedly been stored in a Buick Century and at the Cole property, located about three miles away, that day.
Frank questioned Perry's analysis of the data in connection with Chalue's phone being near the Cole property.
The day ended with corrections officer Steven Stojda taking the stand. He works in the segregation unit of the Berkshire County House of Correction and testified that in September 2011 he witnessed a confrontation between Chalue and inmate Christopher Letalien in front of Chalue's cell. He said he heard shouting, couldn't make out any words, but saw that Letalien had a look of "shock and fear" on his face. He asked Letalien about what happened, but Letalien wouldn't say anything about it.
After Chalue was transferred out, Letalien told Stojda that Chalue said he made three bodies disappear and 14 days later they were found in a hole.
Under cross-examination, Stojda said that the unit is often loud and that inmates are not allowed to linger in front of the cell doors. He conceded that Letalien told him he had spoken to his lawyer and was looking to get a sentence reduction.
Frank showed pictures from the unit and of a cell that had a thick Plexiglas window. He questioned Stojda on whether someone would have to shout to be heard through a cell door.
"You don't have to raise your voice too loud," Stojda answered.
Letalien, along with three other witnesses who spent time in jail with Chalue, are scheduled to testify on Thursday. Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless said he may finish his case by Thursday afternoon.