PITTSFIELD — J.C. Chadwell walked out of Berkshire Superior Court on Wednesday a free man after a jury acquitted him of charges that he had shot and killed Paul Henry in 2017.
Chadwell, 43, of Pittsfield had been held in custody at the Berkshire County Jail and House of Correction for over four years, since early 2018. Following the verdict, he embraced family members outside the courthouse.
He told The Eagle that the first thing he was doing was going to see his youngest child, who is 13.
“I got my life back, that’s the best I can say,” Chadwell said. “I’m going to see my son.”
One of his defense lawyers, Brian Murphy, said the jury — which found Chadwell not guilty on charges of murder and carrying a firearm without a license — returned the correct verdict. He said jurors credited Chadwell, who took the stand in his own defense Tuesday, and found that he had not actually been the shooter.
Chadwell told jurors he lied to the police on Feb. 11, 2018, and falsely claimed responsibility for the fatal shooting. He testified that his confession had been influenced by police whom, according to he and his defense lawyer, suggested Chadwell would receive just a few years jail time and would secure the immediate release of his sister from police custody.
“Justice was done,” Murphy told The Eagle. “He still feels sympathy for the Henry family. But he’s glad that the jury saw that he was not the one who committed this murder.”
Chadwell also testified that the actual shooter had been a man who supplied weapons to gangs, and who had been on the run from law enforcement. That man is one of dozens of defendants who were implicated in a sweeping federal indictment against members and associates of the Latin Kings gang.
“He’s on the lam. He’s been indicted for gun running in federal court for which he’s in warrant status,” said Murphy.
But the Berkshire District Attorney’s office had argued that Chadwell indeed fired the fatal shot at Henry, 39, of Pittsfield at a large block party on John Street on July 4, 2017.
Special Assistant District Attorney Brett Vottero argued that Chadwell and Henry had bad blood with one another following a 2012 incident in which Henry sliced Chadwell with a machete. He said that when the two man saw each other at the block party, a fight ensued, and Chadwell shot Henry, who died as a result of the gunshot.
Vottero played over two hours of video for the jury that depicted two interviews Chadwell gave to Pittsfield police in February 2018. The defense zeroed in on how by various estimates there were approximately 100 to 200 people at the block party, and the prosecution did not call to the stand any eyewitnesses.
Chadwell had faced up to life in prison. The 12-person jury found him not guilty of murder and not guilty of carrying a firearm without a license.