Judge mulls bail reduction for suspect in Ashley Reservoir shooting
PITTSFIELD — A judge is deciding whether to reduce bail for one of the suspects accused in the near-fatal shooting of Nick Carnevale last August.
During a bail hearing Tuesday in Berkshire Superior Court, attorney Joseph Harty, representing Kevin Nieves, said new evidence significantly changes the state's case against his client. He asked Judge Karen L. Goodwin to reduce Nieves' bail from $20,000 to $5,000.
Nieves, who has pleaded not guilty to charges including armed assault with intent to murder, and aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, is among four suspects charged in the Aug. 21 incident near the Ashley Reservoir in the town of Washington. Luis Delvalle-Rodriguez, Daquan Douglas and Christopher Frazier also have been charged in the case.
Harty argued that a series of Facebook messages, allegedly between a witness in the case and a family member of Nieves', suggest that the witness deliberately gave false information to police regarding Nieves' role in the assault and whether he was the one who fired the shots that hit Carnevale.
Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Joseph Yorlano asked to keep the bail in place and said that, despite the messages, there is no new information that would change the case against Nieves.
Yorlano said the state's theory of the case is that Nieves was not the one who pulled the trigger, but that he and the other co-defendants are being prosecuted under a theory that the assault was a joint venture between them. Police believe the shooter likely was Delvalle-Rodriguez, based on witness information and a recording in which he allegedly admitted to being the one who shot Carnevale.
He also noted that Nieves also has a pending case of witness intimidation for allegedly contacting that witness from jail and asking them to change their story.
The Facebook messages were posted after Nieves already was charged with the intimidation count, Yorlano said.
Yorlano also said state police are investigating another series of messages that might indicate some "brokering" between others to agree not to cooperate with prosecutors in an unrelated assault case involving the same witness in exchange for her changing her statement in the Carnevale case.
Harty discounted the strength of the state's case on the witness intimidation charge, saying it will not hold up based on a lack of evidence regarding the alleged letter and to whom it might have been addressed.
Goodwin took the matter under advisement.
According to information aired in court and documents obtained by The Eagle, Carnevale, 19, and two friends went to a party apparently organized via a private Facebook group. Nieves allegedly warned the woman who accompanied Carnevale to the party not to bring him, and made veiled threats.
At some point, Carnevale and others tried to leave, but his truck got stuck in mud as a group, wielding sticks and other pieces of wood, pulled Carnevale from the truck and attacked him.
Multiple gunshots were fired and Carnevale was struck in the head. Prosecutors have said his survival is miraculous.
Delvalle-Rodriguez remains held on $20,000 bail; Douglas and Frazier are being held on bail of $10,000 and $5,000, respectively.
Bob Dunn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.
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