PITTSFIELD — The attorney for one of three men charged in the October 2018 stabbing death of William Catalano seeks to have him charged with manslaughter, not murder.
Jason Sefton has pleaded not guilty to that murder charge.
His attorney, Jeremy Powers, argued in Berkshire Superior Court last week that, under the circumstances, manslaughter was the more appropriate charge against his client.
First Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Karen Bell disagreed, asking Judge John Agostini to let the murder indictment stand.
Powers said the fight in which Sefton and co-defendants Bruce Romano and Anthony Boone were involved with Catalano was not a matter of premeditation or calculated malice.
Powers described the fight as a "mutual combat situation," rather than a one-sided attack. Catalano was fatally stabbed.
Powers said the grand jury that indicted Sefton on the murder charge should have been given a manslaughter instruction and option, saying it was the appropriate charge.
Bell noted that case law states that premeditation can be established in a matter of seconds.
She said video evidence of the fight and stabbing shows Sefton as the instigator of the fight. She said it wasn't a self-defense scenario.
Bell said that, based on the video, Sefton continued to assault Catalano after the stabbing and then he and the other men left him on the sidewalk "to suffer and die."
Sefton, she said, was indifferent to that suffering.
Bell also noted that the state is not required to give the grand jury a manslaughter instruction and said there was no evidence that would warrant one.
Agostini took Powers' motion under advisement.
Romano's case remains open. Boone pleaded guilty to manslaughter in February. He was sentenced to 12 to 15 years.
A conviction of first-degree murder carries a penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Bob Dunn can be reached at email@example.com, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.