Monday July 30, 2012
PITTSFIELD -- A Berkshire Superior Court jury has found John H. Tart and Stephen C. Abriel not guilty on all charges in relation to a July 2010 brawl between neighboring partygoers.
The four-woman, eight-man jury deliberated for about six hours over two days before handing down its decision on Monday.
Identity was the focus of the trial of Tart, 35, and Abriel, 27, both of Pittsfield, with the men's attorneys -- Timothy M. Farris and William A. Rota, respectively -- underscoring a lack of evidence and eyewitnesses linking their clients to the charges.
Prosecutors Joseph A. Pieropan and Rachael Eramo relied on witnesses that claimed they saw the defendants attacking people and a 911 audio recording that caught the fight on tape.
According to trial testimony, on the night of July 4, 2010, a massive fight involving between 50 and 90 people attending two separate parties on Cloverdale Street in Pittsfield broke out.
It was allegedly precipitated by a long-standing feud between James Grant, one of the prosecution's key witnesses in the case, and Jesse Tart, John's brother.
Police and prosecutors alleged that John Tart assaulted a man with a sledgehammer and that Abriel punched a woman and used a stun gun on other partygoers during the melee.
The jury found Abriel not guilty of nine charges, including four counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and possession of a stun gun.
The men's families, seated in the gallery, gave out a communal gasp of relief after the verdicts were read.
Jesse Tart, 38, took a plea deal just before trial began last Monday (July 23), admitting to drug and weapons charges. He was sentenced to 18 months in jail and five years of probation.
The case was investigated by the Pittsfield Police Department.