PITTSFIELD — One person involved in a 2019 altercation in Adams said he did not see Anthony D. Chambers wield a knife, but another witness testified that she saw him commit the stabbing that injured one.
Opening arguments began Tuesday in Berkshire Superior Court in Chamber’s trial — the first criminal prosecution to proceed to a jury trial inside the building during the pandemic.
Chambers was indicted and has pleaded not guilty to charges of armed assault with intent to murder and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon just over two months after Jai Marshall was stabbed on Winter Street on the evening of Aug. 26, 2019.
During opening arguments in the trial presided over by Judge Douglas Wilkins, Assistant District Attorney Heather Valentine accused Chambers of committing the stabbing during a fight over a love interest.
She told the jury that Johnathon Richard, 35, had previously been in a relationship with Chamber’s girlfriend, Laura Kirby, and the two men were fighting over her. Richard, she said, went unarmed to the Winter Street apartment where Chambers was living with Kirby expecting, “at worst,” a fist fight with Chambers.
But Chambers intended to kill Richard, according to Valentine. Chambers “ran up” to Richard on Winter Street, where Richard went with his brother, Michael, as well as Cameron Morris and Marshall. She alleged that chambers began “wildly swinging” a double-edged knife.
“I will even let you give him a hug, because this is the last time you are ever going to see him,” Chambers told Kirby before the incident, according to Valentine.
Richard dodged the knife, but Marshall “was too drunk too slow to get out of the way,” Valentine claimed, and he was stabbed by Chambers in the back.
“He stabbed Jai Marshall excessively and wholly unnecessarily given the circumstances that were presented to him,” the prosecutor said.
Chamber’s defense attorney, Joshua Hochberg, countered that “Mr. Chambers did not stab Jai Marshall.” In his opening statements, Hochberg said that indeed there’s “no question that” the Richards brothers, Morris and Marshall went to Chamber’s apartment at 12 Winter St. “to start a fight.”
But he said “the evidence will show … they had a motive to do something else.” Hochberg went on to suggest during witness questioning that Chambers was in possession of a “large amount of cash” due to a student loan payout at the time of the incident.
Valentine presented the first witness, Michael Richard, 39, who testified that he drove to pick his brother up the evening of Aug. 26, 2019. His brother was angry and ready to fight, something Michael Richard said he tried to dissuade Johnathon from doing.
“He wouldn’t get in the car,” said Michael Richard, “he wanted to go fight some guy.”
Michael Richard testified that he saw someone stab Marshall in the back then run away, prompting him to call 911. Portions of the recording of the call, in which commotion could be heard in the background, were played for the jury.
Johnathon Richard, who said he has “anger issues,” confirmed that he walked to Winter Street intending to fight Chambers, and said neither he, Morris, Marshall or his brother had a weapon.
He said he did not recall seeing Chambers with a knife that night.
“This is a long time ago,” said Johnathon Richard. “I was intoxicated.”
In his testimony, Morris said Johnathon Richard fought a male he could not identify. He said he saw “a couple fists being thrown,” but did not see anyone get stabbed.
Kirby received phone calls from Johnathon Richard the day of the incident, she testified, prompting a reaction from Chambers. She said Chambers locked her in a bathroom to prevent her from warning Johnathon Richard, and said Chambers told her to give Richard a hug because “it would be the last time I was gonna hug him.”
Chambers ran toward Johnathon Richard, who “squared up” for a fight, according to Kirby. Chambers swung the knife, but Marshall “got in the way,” and was stabbed in the back, she said. Multiple witnesses testified that Chambers was known to carry a knife consistent with the one authorities said was used in the stabbing, and Adams police officer Joshua Baker said Chambers told investigators the location of the knife.
Kirby testified that Chambers instructed her to lie about the events of the day on multiple occasions. Chambers ran to his apartment and surrendered to members of the Berkshire County Special Response Team after midnight.
Testimony is set to resume on Wednesday.