9:16 a.m. Fred Contrada signing on for Masslive and The Republican for coverage of the Anthony Baye sentencing.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 9:17
9:17 a.m. We are in the big courtroom in the old part of the Hampshire County Courthouse. The acoustics here are bad but they have recently installed a sound system. The place is packed. There are media and people who lived in the neighborhoods of the fires and people whose houses burned. Baye's parents are here, along with firefighters and half the Northampton Police Department. I've seen Det. Corey Robinson, one of the officers who stopped Baye on the night of Dec. 27, 2009, when he was driving around near the fires. Robinson never got to testify because Baye pleaded guilty to everything Monday.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 9:20
9:19 a.m. State Trooper Michael Mazza is here, along with other arson investigators. The prosecution team is at their table. It was a stunning victory for them Monday when Baye pled out. (I incorrectly said Friday before. It seems like a week ago).
Wednesday May 15, 2013 9:22
9:21 a.m. Judge Constance M. Sweeney will officially pass sentence on Baye this morning. He wil get 19-20 years in state prison for manslaughter, followed by 15 years probation. Baye is 28. He will be about 48 when he gets out. While on probation he will undergo random tests for illegal drugs. His movements will be monitored electronically. In theory he will be about 63 before he can melt back into society.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 9:24
9:24 a.m. David Hoose and Tom Lesser, the defense lawyers, are talking to Mr. and Mrs. Baye on the other side of the courtroom. The defense will hold a press conference after the sentencing, as will the prosecution. I hope to talk to some people from the neighborhood.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 9:26
9:27 a.m. Baye's plea Monday was especially stunning because he admitted to nearly all the suspicious fires in his neighborhood prior to Dec. 27, 2009. People in Ward 3 were seriously spooked. They met with the mayor and police chief and fire chief in December of 2007, long before Baye was a suspect. The meeting was on Hawley St., right next door to Baye's house.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 9:30
9:29 a.m. DA Dave Sullivan is at the table with the prosecutors. After the pleas on Monday, Sullivan said, "The people of Northampton can sleep tonight." I hope to get some insight today into how the sides came together for the agreement. The prosecution had virtually no hard evidence that Baye was the arson, but it presented its case very well. Brett Vottero gave a strong opening and managed to paint a picture of the terror and confusion of Dec. 27 during the first day of testimony.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 9:33
9:32 a.m. Judge Sweeney has taken the bench. Vottero expresses his appreciation for the judge allowing the sentencing in Northampton. Victim statement from Laura Seftel of 26 Union. :My children lost the only house they had ever known... we went from being volunteers to being recipients of charity... My son tells me he's afraid Baye is going to get him... The fire came close to taking the lives of my son and husband...After that night we were homeless, disrupted and overwhelmed... Like standing in the middle of a hurricane... Lost our clothes, our medications... Spent two years wrangling with the insurance company... (Vottero is reading this)...Among the things Baye stole from me: the opportunity to grieve my father... I hope Baye finds the psychological help he needs..."
Wednesday May 15, 2013 9:36
9:35 a.m. A victim statement from Henry Siegel.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 9:37
9:37 a.m. Henry Siegel also lived at 26 Union. "The fire on Fair St. killed one of my best friends, Paul Yeskie... I know that inside Anthony is a normal guy like the rest of us, despite his lack of empathy... I hope one day he learns how his actions affect other people..."
Wednesday May 15, 2013 9:38
9:38 a.m. Naomi Cairns who lived in 2 houses burned by Baye. Crescent and Hawley. "On Jan. 19, 2007, awoke to a fire in my home... black smoke... 67 Hawley St... I ran from my home confused and terrified...My cat was still inside... I lost the first cat I ever had... lost my photography, a dress, my sense of safety... stress disorder... therapy... moved to Seattle for 2 years... Dec. 27, 2009, I came home to my porch on fire... I believed that someone was trying to kill me...I slept on the couch wearing sneakers...if I hear a fire alarm I'm brought to tears... still difficult for me to fall asleep at night... I've been deeply impacted by the loss of what it is to feel safe...hurtful that Baye, my neighbor, would commit such senseless acts...Anthony, I want to talk to you..."
Wednesday May 15, 2013 9:43
9:42 a.m.Vottero calls on then Yeskie family. The granddaughter of Paul and Elaine reads a statement (I don't see Elaine Yeskie here). Jeff Russo (son). (The acoustics are making it difficult to hear). "There has not been a day since the fire when I haven't cried (granddaughter reading)..."
Sweeney is asking the family questions. (Mrs. Yeskie (Elaine) is at the table with her granddaughter. She says, "My husband retired... he would leave wood on people's steps inn the morning... there isn't anything Paul Sr. or Paul Jr. wouldn't do for you if you asked... they were great gentlemen... never argued, never fought..."
Sweeney: I don't want to make this more difficult for you. Your husband called out to you to save you. That told me a lot about him.
Mrs. Yeskie is overcome. "I have to take meds to sleep at night... phone was dead...I turned around, grabbed my coat and boots... I don't know how I got out... I still feel responsible for not going back..."
Sweeney: Thank God you survived (People crying next to me).
Wednesday May 15, 2013 9:52
9:52 a.m. Sweeney thanks the Yeskies. (Sorry I cant make out a lot of what they are saying). Daughter reading: "Dec. 27, 2009, was the worst day of my life...Paul Yeskie Jr. was so much like his father, he was generous and kind...Passionate about the Boston Red Sox...The last time I saw my brother was on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 2009...I hear his voice on a 911 recording yelling that his house was on fire and he couldn't get out...I'm angry...My daughter had to see me in such enormous pain..."
Wednesday May 15, 2013 9:56
9:55 a.m. Daughter: "Paul Jr. loved me so much." Teary.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 9:57
9:56 a.m. Family helps Elaine Yeskie, who is using a walker. She's 78.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 9:57
9:57 a.m. Vottero: I know you've heard so many stories like this... There is something different about this one... Anthony who listened to the phone call place by Paul Yeskie Jr. really felt the impact of this crime. Paul senior and junior had the same birthday... On Mothers Day I went to the Yeskie family to discuss this disposition... Acknowledgment that no sentence can ever equal the loss the Yeskies have suffered...In this case, more than any I can think of, the community was the victim... for more than two years the entire community was afraid...When that fear became the reality of Dec. 27, 2009, I don't think we can truly appreciate with that community went through...the full acceptance of Anthony Baye for all the fires was essential... the community will be protected by the conditions of probation..."
Wednesday May 15, 2013 10:01
10 a.m. David Hoose: "Not a typical case, you (Sweeney) have been on the case for a couple of years... Probably very little I can tell you about Anthony Baye that you dont already know...He's terribly sorry for the pain he's caused the people in this case...I view these days as a day for the victims to be heard... I want to take the opportunity to thank DA's office for making the recommendation they made... Very much just and proper... The crimes are many and they are of course terrible... This resolution has the imprint of countless people... "
Wednesday May 15, 2013 10:05
10:04 a.m. Sweeney: Thank all of you for bringing your great expertise. I spoke to the jurors, made it very clear they were not to comment on their view of the case... Not one of them asked me why the trial in Springfield and not Northampton... "
Wednesday May 15, 2013 10:08
10:07 a.m. Sweeney: The jurors expressed a real sorrow for Paul sr. and jr.... Disappointed the sentencing would take place here because they wanted to see it... One thing I do want to mention now, re the community as a whole, Northampton community was a victim in this case... As their own houses were burning, neighbors still helped neighbors who were in like situations. They did so while their community was for all intents and purposes under attack. A real shinging light for what a community can be..."
Wednesday May 15, 2013 10:12
10:11 a.m. Sweeney: The City of Northampton and its citizens responded... Law enforcement agencies that responded, within and outside Northampton... Smith College... Almost was never mentioned how seamless law enforcement agencies came together on a moment's notice..."
Wednesday May 15, 2013 10:14
10:13 a.m. I can't see the defendant. There are too many people between us.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 10:14
[Comment From Guest Guest : ]
Is Baye reacting to any of this in any way?
Wednesday May 15, 2013 10:15 Guest
10:14 a.m. Sweeney is praising the work of police and firefighters.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 10:15
10:15 a.m. Clerk Harry Jekanowski is reading the sentence (Baye stands): For the intimidation of a witness charges he is sentenced to time served. Manslaughter: not more than 20, not less than 19 years in state prison. (There are 48 charges so this could take a while). The bottom line: 19-20 years in prison, 15 years probation.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 10:19
10:18 a.m. Baye (when I can see him) looks grim but composed. His father has his chin in his hand and is leaning forward. His mother is sitting straight up. Elaine Yeskie is looking on intently. Baye's lawyers, as per custom, are standing with him.
Wednesday May 15, 2013 10:21
10:20 a.m. That's it. On to the press conferences.