Judge denies bail for man charged in Washington shooting

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WESTFIELD — Contradictory witness statements and lingering questions surrounding who actually pulled the trigger in an Aug. 21 shooting were not enough to dissuade a Hampden County judge from holding one of the men arrested in connection with the case without bail for four months.

Luis Delvalle-Rodriguez, 23, is one of three city men charged so far in the shooting and assault of the 19-year-old man near the Ashley Reservoir during a large party and bonfire.

At Tuesday's dangerousness hearing, Delvalle-Rodriguez's attorney, Donald Frank, objected to the inclusion of statements from a potential witness in the case, given a few days apart, that appear to give conflicting information.

In one, Frank said, the witness said his client was not involved. In the other, the same witness identifies Dalvalle-Rodriguez as the shooter.

"Which one is true?" Frank asked.

Frank said that witness was the only one among those interviewed by police who identified his client as having pulled the trigger. Frank said other witnesses identified one of the co-defendants, 19-year-old Kevin Nieves, as the one who shot the victim.

Frank cited other witness statements, including one from the person who made the 911 call, in which they identified Nieves as one of three people following the victim and his two friends while they tried to leave the party. That same witness told police they didn't identify Delvalle-Rodriguez among the other two people in the group following the victim, despite knowing who he is and what he looks like.

Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Joseph Yorlano said contained within the court documents — which remain under an impoundment order — is an explanation from the witness who provided two differing accounts as to why he changed his statement. He also cited another witness who told investigators Delvalle-Rodriguez admitted to them he shot the victim after the victim allegedly stabbed the third co-defendant in the case Dauquan Douglas, 24, during a melee moments earlier.

Frank insisted his client is not the shooter and may only be guilty of being involved in a fistfight that night.

Yorlano argued that Judge Bruce Melikian could determine how much weight to give any witness statement, but that all were admissible under the statute regarding dangerousness hearings.

After oral arguments and reviewing the case file, Melikian found DelValle-Rodriguez a danger and determined no release conditions — including Frank's suggestion of house arrest and GPS monitoring — would ensure the safety of the community.

While court records, including multiple reports from the Massachusetts State Police, remain under seal, a framework of the events has come out during several court hearings since the shooting.

The victim and his companions went to the party, arriving late the night of Aug. 20 or early the next morning.

After feeling uneasy, due to apparent tension between the group and Nieves, who used to date the woman who went to the party with the victim, they returned to their truck and attempted to leave.

According to one witness, Nieves was having a hard time moving on past the breakup.

Yorlano said the truck became mired in mud as the group tried to leave and a "mob" — some of whom brandished sticks and branches — attacked the truck, eventually forcing the victim out. A fight ensued and shots were fired, causing the group to scatter.

Police received a 911 call reporting the shooting about 1 a.m. Aug. 21. The victim, who has not been identified by authorities, was shot three times.

According to the Berkshire District Attorney's Office, he remains hospitalized and in intensive care.

Melikian also revoked Delvalle-Rodriguez's bail on an open car theft case and also set a hearing to determine if his new charges violate the conditions of his probation from a guilty plea to a domestic violence charge. The Hampden County Probation Department recommends detention for that alleged violation.

Nieves and Douglas were also found to be dangerous at their respective hearings and each ordered held without bail for 120 days.

Delvalle-Rodriguez has pleaded not guilty to armed assault with intent to murder, kidnapping and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

Nieves has pleaded not guilty to the same charges, as well as a count of illegal possession of a firearm.

Douglas has pleaded not guilty to charges of armed assault with intent to murder, kidnapping and assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon.

Delvalle-Rodriguez is due back in court on Oct. 9 for a hearing on his alleged probation violation. Yorlano said the case may be submitted to a grand jury for transfer into Superior Court before then.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@berkshireeagle.com, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.


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