PITTSFIELD — Anthony Chambers, testifying in his own defense Wednesday, said that he was the victim of an attempted robbery plotted by his girlfriend and a man she previously dated.
Chambers denied stabbing Jai Marshall in the back during an altercation in Adams on Aug. 26, 2019.
Prosecutors allege he had been in conflict with Johnathon Richard, who had previously been in a relationship with Chamber’s girlfriend, Laura Kirby, and during the August incident intended to kill Richard with a knife, but ultimately struck Marshall with the blade after Richard dodged the blow.
Chambers was the final witness to testify in his trial on charges of armed assault with intent to murder and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. The proceedings mark the first criminal prosecution to go to a trial before a jury in Berkshire Superior Court during the pandemic.
On the stand Wednesday, Chambers described a series of events that appeared to contradict what Assistant District Attorney Heather Valentine said transpired that day during her opening statements in court on Tuesday.
Chambers, who was the sole defense witness, said he planned to end his relationship with Kirby, his girlfriend of about one year, after instances of lying and infidelity.
He testified that he told her the relationship was over and that he needed her to move out of the room they shared at 12 Winter St. Kirby had nowhere to go, according to Chambers, and that day began messaging Richard, whom she previously dated.
Meantime, Chambers testified that he had received a student loan payout “a couple days before” Aug. 26 2019.
Defense attorney Joshua Hochberg, in his closing statements on Wednesday, claimed that Richard brought his “posse” — consisting of his brother, Michael Richard, Cameron Morris and Marshall — to rob Chambers of his student loan money, the location which he said Kirby knew.
“Mr. Chambers was the victim of an attempted robbery in his own home that Laura Kirby set up with her old boyfriend and ‘Run-It-Up Cam’,” said Hochberg, invoking the nickname of Morris. “Hell have no fury like a woman scorned.”
Chambers testified that the Richard brothers, Morris and Marshall entered his residence at 12 Winter St. and demanded the money before a “big fight” ensued among the men in the entryway of the apartment.
Chambers shoved one man into another man, he testified, before seeing a look of “anguish” spread across the first man’s face. Hochberg, in closing, suggested that Marshall was stabbed with a knife that belonged to Michael Richard, though Richard testified Tuesday that he did not have a weapon that evening.
The Richard brothers, Morris and Marshall then fled the apartment, Chambers said, and Chambers chased them for about 15 to 20 feet before returning to his apartment. He denied that he ever intended to fight, let alone kill, Richard as prosecutors alleged.
He testified that he hid from them in his basement for a “very long time,” and was not aware that dozens of police including tactical units — an officer testified Tuesday that there were about 50 members of law enforcement on the scene — had surrounded the apartment.
In her closing statement, Valentine said images of the entryway to the apartment showed no signs of a struggle having taken place. She said the evidence shows Chambers was the perpetrator of a stabbing, not the victim of an alleged robbery as claimed by the defense.
Valentine drew the jury’s attention back to a statement she said Chambers made to Kirby previous to the incident, when Chambers told her that it would be “the last time you’re gonna hug” Richard.
“The defendant had formed the intent to kill, and he made his intent known to Laura Kirby on Aug. 26, 2019,” said Valentine.
Valentine said that after the incident, Chambers asked another of his roommates to hide the knife that authorities allege was used in the stabbing, and also instructed his roommates on what to say to investigators.
The 12-member jury in Chamber’s trial began deliberating after 1 p.m., and deliberations were set to resume on Thursday. One alternate juror remained on standby. On Tuesday, Judge Douglas Wilkins dismissed a juror who he said appeared to have become visibly fatigued during the proceedings.