In pleading guilty, partcipant in 2014 shooting death says 'It shouldn't have happened'
PITTSFIELD — "Because of me, somebody died."
Those words, spoken by Peter Campbell, came moments after he pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and other charges Thursday in the 2014 death of Anthony Gamache of Goshen.
Campbell, 22, of Pittsfield, addressed the court and said he was remorseful for his role in Gamache's death, adding that it happened because he didn't conduct himself as the man he should have been.
"It shouldn't have happened," he said.
Campbell admitted to his role in the death of Gamache, 29, who allegedly was shot by Campbell's co-defendant, Laquan Johnson, during a marijuana deal in the parking lot of the West Street Big Y in Pittsfield on Nov. 18, 2014. He was sentenced to up to six years in prison, though he has served about four years of that sentence while awaiting trial.
Gamache's widow, who was unable to attend Thursday's hearing in Berkshire Superior Court, submitted a letter to the court, which was read into the record by Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Joseph Yorlano.
She described Gamache as the love of her life and a gentle soul, whose absence in her life and the lives of her children has left an impact that resonates today, including still paying off his funeral expenses.
Gamache was shot in the leg and taken by the two people who accompanied him to the deal to Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton for treatment of his wound.
Yorlano said Gamache insisted on being taken to Northampton for treatment, about an hour's drive away, rather than a closer hospital because he had to be with his wife, who Yorlano described as the "rock" of the family.
Gamache was transferred to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, where he was treated and released, with the bullet still lodged in his leg.
The next day, while recuperating at home, Gamache fell unconscious and died. An autopsy determined that he died due to a blood clot caused by the gunshot wound.
Campbell was identified by the two people who accompanied Gamache to the deal as the one who fired the shot.
They later recanted that story and admitted to police that they pegged Campbell as the shooter because they were upset about Gamache's death and Campbell was the only one of the two they knew and could identify by name.
Campbell also told police he fired the shot, but at that time everyone, including police, was under the belief that Gamache would survive his injury.
Campbell admitted at the time to firing the shot because he was under the impression he would, at most, be looking at a charge of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and was willing to take the rap for Johnson under those circumstances.
As the investigation proceeded, Johnson was identified as the other person with Campbell.
Johnson was arrested in March 2016 and remains in custody. He is expected to go to trial on his charges, including second-degree murder, early next year.
Campbell, too, was charged with second-degree murder, among other offenses, but a plea deal reached with prosecutors within the past couple of days allowed him to plead to involuntary manslaughter.
Campbell's attorney, Jared Olanoff, said his client had no idea Johnson would shoot someone that night.
In the lead-up to Thursday's plea, questions surrounded the level of cooperation Campbell had provided and whether the Berkshire District Attorney's Office had arranged an otherwise undisclosed deal with Campbell.
Prosecutors insisted during a pretrial hearing this year that there was no deal in place and there had been no consideration of a deal up to that point.
Olanoff said that was true and that negotiations with the DA's office had only begun in earnest after Judge John Agostini ruled in early September that the solution to the question of whether there was a deal in place was to have Campbell go to trial first, in mid-November, with Johnson's trial to follow later.
In all, Campbell pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, two counts of armed assault with intent to rob and witness intimidation.
He was sentenced to 4 1/2 to six years in prison, to be served at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction.
He was given credit for 1,451 days of time served in custody.
Bob Dunn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.