8:55 a.m. Prosecutors and defense lawyers, as well as defendant Anthony Baye P. Baye are in the courtroom awaiting Judge Constance M. Sweeney.
Monday May 6, 2013 8:53
9: 03 a.m. Judge takes bench says 100 or so jurors will be ready in a short time.
Monday May 6, 2013 9:03
9:10 a.m. Judge Sweeney goes over a decision she made on Friday. She said both prosecution and defense experts agree the fires on Dec. 27, 2009 are part of an arson spree.
The fires earlier in 2009 are serial fires, she said.
The Dec. 27 fires are termed "group 3 fires" while the fires earlier in 2009 are termed "group 2 fires."
Judge says defense expert and prosecution expert are both well qualified.
Both generally agree there are four elements for linkage: geography, time, materials and methods. The problem with Trooper Mazza's (prosecution expert) opinion is the process is too general, not for investigative purposes, but the process he used is too general for all categories of linkage.
Monday May 6, 2013 9:11
9:20 a.m. Mazza's opinion that the two groups of fires are linked is not supported scientifically, Sweeney said.
Sweeney said the defense expert - former police officer and fire investigator with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Kevin Kelm - argued there were no scientific standards to measure Mazza's opinion.
Sweeney now moves to the issue of "joinder" of the group 2 and group 3 fires for trial.
"Linkage is off the table, off the board," she said.
Special prosecutor Brett Vottero said he interprets Sweeney's decision as meaning the two groups of fires must be severed for different trials. Defense lawyer David Hoose agrees. Sweeney separates the two groups for two different trials.
Monday May 6, 2013 9:20
9:25 a.m. Vottero said there are some instances where witnesses will be testifying in this trial on group three fires (Dec. 27, 2009 fires) that there were some earlier fires. He said the judge could give a jury instruction to cover that.
Hoose renews an earlier motion to dismiss the case against Baye. Sweeney denies Hoose's motion.
Monday May 6, 2013 9:25
9:30 a.m. Hoose said Sunday Republican and Masslive.com coverage Sunday goes into great detail about all of the evidence the court has determined the jury should not hear (about group 2 fires).
Hoose wants prospective jurors to be asked only at sidebar - rather than first as a group - if they have heard about the case.
He said jurors might not raise their hands when the group is asked if they have heard publicity, but may think about it further and realize they have.
Sweeney said the group will be asked as a whole, and also the matter will be discussed at sidebar individually with prospective jurors.
Monday May 6, 2013 9:31
9:40 a.m. Hoose said Baye will be at sidebar during individual questioning of jurors. A defendant can choose whether or not to stand at sidebar during that questioning or remain sitting at the defense table.
The judge said there will now be 30 charges rather than 42 for this trial, with the exclusion of the fires earlier in 2009.
Vottero said two to three weeks is still a good estimate for length of trial.
Sweeney has called a short break while jurors are brought down into the courtroom. There is only one man observing in the courtroom at the moment.
Monday May 6, 2013 9:39
About 100 jurors are being ushered into the courtroom with each one being given a copy of the witness list as they take a seat. There are more than 250 jurors called in today to the Hall of Justice, overflowing the jury room on the fourth floor so some are sitting in empty courtrooms.
Monday May 6, 2013 10:01
The jury list handed to prospective jurors is only the prosecution's. Vottero has already said the severance of the earlier 2009 fires will mean some of the witnesses will be taken off the list.
Witness lists include anyone who may possibly be called. Most times there are many more names on the witness list than are called. Jurors will be asked if they know anyone on the witness list.
Monday May 6, 2013 10:10
Sweeney begins to outline the case. She says it is a criminal case where Baye has a number of charges. Baye is presumed innocent of the charges. Sweeney has the prosecutors and defense lawyers introduce themselves.
Sweeney lists things with which Baye is charged. They include murder of Paul Yeskie, murder of Paul Yeskie Jr., armed burglary (Yeskie residence), arson of a dwelling (Yeskie home), burning a motor vehicle (Paul Yeskie's), burning motor vehicle (2nd Paul Yeskie vehicle), burning motor vehicle (Elaine Yeskie), arson in a dwelling (26 Union St.), armed burglary (26 Union St.), armed burglary (another home), arson of a dwelling (10 Highland Ave.), attempt to burn motor vehicle, armed burglary (another home), attempt to burn dwelling house (32 Highland Ave.), burning a motor vehicle, burning a motor vehicle (Daniel Larose), burning a motor vehicle (Julie Robbins), burning a motor vehicle (Michelle Eastman), arson of a building (garage 16 Northern Ave.), burning a motor vehicle, burning a motor vehicle (Seth Gregory), attempt to burn dwelling (11 Crescent St.), burning a motor vehicle (Michael Nemirov), arson dwelling house (11 Crescent St.) attempting to burn a dwelling house (5 Crescent St.), burning a motor vehicle (Misti Adams), and burning a motor vehicle (Tim Schwaber)
He faces two charges of misleading a police officer on Dec. 27, 2009. Another charge is misleading a police officer Dec. 29, 2009, as well as two of misleading a police officer Dec. 30, 2009. The last one is misleading a police officer Jan. 4, 2010.
Monday May 6, 2013 10:28
Sweeney is now reading the prosecution's witness list as the prospective jurors follow along on the list they were given. The list includes: 23 Northampton police officers, 30 members of the Massachusetts State Police; three officers from the Smith College Public Safety Department; 75 civilians; one member of Northampton Public Safety Department; a medical examiner; one Amherst Fire Department member; and 7 members of the Northampton Fire Department.
Monday May 6, 2013 10:34
15 people raise their hands when asked if they know any witness. Three people say they have a particular interest in this case or type of case. Eleven people say they have formed an opinion of this case or type of case.
Fourteen people say they have a bias or prejudice toward this case or type of case.
Monday May 6, 2013 10:38
Asked if they have heard or seen anything about this case 76 people, or about 3/4 of the room, raised their hands.
A total of 31 people raised their hands when asked if they have ever been the victim of a car or home fire, no matter how it started.
Monday May 6, 2013 10:45
Thirty six people indicated they, a close family member, or a close friend is a fire department employee or in a fire-related field.
Monday May 6, 2013 10:50
Thirty people said they would believe the testimony of law enforcement or fire department personnel over the testimony of civilians.
Thirty four people said graphic photos or graphic testimony - which Sweeney said may be included in the trial - would distract them or move them away from being fair.
Monday May 6, 2013 10:54
Sweeney said it could take up to three weeks to present evidence. She said a view of scenes in Northampton will be taken by bus.
She asked if because of those two items, does anyone feel they cannot serve on the jury.
A total of 74 hands shot up, about 3/4 of the room.
For most questions simply responding with a yes does not mean a prospective juror will be excused. Sweeney explained each person will be called to the sidebar individually for explanation of why they raised their hands and further discussion.
That process has just begun.
Monday May 6, 2013 11:07
At the crowded sidebar are Vottero, Baye, Hoose, Hampshire County Assistant District Attorneys Matthew Thomas and Thomas Townsend, defense lawyer Thomas Lesser, the court reporter and Assistant Hampden Superior Court Clerk Stephanie Roscoe.
Monday May 6, 2013 11:11
Sweeney, months before the trial's beginning, said jury selection would take place in Hampden County because of extensive pretrial publicity in the Northampton area.
The Hampden County jury was to be bused to Hampshire Superior Court in Northampton daily for trial.
On Thursday Sweeney said she would hold the trial in Springfield instead of Northampton, as previously planned.
Sweeney said "practical logistics" dictate that the proceedings remain in Springfield, where the jury will be selected.
Prospective jurors are being called to sidebar and in most cases after a short talk, they have been excused. About two dozen have been excused with none selected.
Monday May 6, 2013 11:27
First juror is seated.
Monday May 6, 2013 11:31
As I am sure our readers know, individual questioning of jurors is done in whispered tones at the side of the judge's bench to allow privacy which is aimed at getting honest answers.
Therefore, our live blogging of the trial slows down, as we don't have a lot to report.
But I can tell you a second juror has just been seated. Both are women.
Monday May 6, 2013 11:40
Juror number 40 was just called up to sidebar so you can see how many jurors are being excused.
Monday May 6, 2013 11:46
Third juror seated, also a woman.
Monday May 6, 2013 11:49
More jurors are being excused sequentially.
Judge Sweeney is having prosecution and defense use their juror challenges at the sidebar.
That means the three people seated on the jury so far cannot be challenged.
The challenges, 16 for each side, are when a lawyer asks that a juror whom a judge has declared can be fair be excused.
The lawyers do not need to say why. When a judge approves a juror, the juror is asked to step back from the sidebar while lawyers decide whether to challenge.
So far this morning it appears most people are being excused by the judge before there is any need for lawyers to decide whether to challenge.
Monday May 6, 2013 12:03
The regular docket in Hampden Superior Court for today is 24 pages long with a number of judges sitting in sessions.
Among murder suspects in lock up at the courthouse, brought in today for proceedings in their cases, are co-defendants Emanuel Santana, Jesus Luciano, Luis Rodriguez and Joshua Pena for the killing of Antonio Gonzales; and Lionel Lopez Cardona, Armando Olivares, Javier Nieves and Dennis Diaz for the fatal shooting of Reality Shabazz Walker.
Judge Sweeney has taken a short break in jury selection. The number of selected jurors remains at three.
Monday May 6, 2013 12:21
Selection has resumed.
Forty three prospective jurors are left in the courtroom, but there are still many jurors in the pool who have not been brought into the courtroom yet.
Monday May 6, 2013 12:27
Jurors continue to be excused at sidebar.
Monday May 6, 2013 12:38
A fourth juror, a man, has been seated. After the judge deemed him fair, both sides took several minutes conferring amongst themselves as to whether to challenge, but neither did.
Monday May 6, 2013 12:47
Getting close to 100 people who have been at sidebar. Four jurors seated.
How much of a factor is the length of the trial? The nature of the crime? People having formed opinions? Those are questions only those who are at sidebar can know.
Monday May 6, 2013 12:59
State law requires employers to compensate employees for the first three days of jury service. The law applies to both full and part-time employees. Starting on the fourth day of jury service, the state compensates jurors at a rate of $50.00 per day.
Monday May 6, 2013 1:02
The first day of jury selection in the recent Cara Rintala murder trial in Hampshire Superior Court saw 5 of the required 16 jurors seated. After three days of jury selection in that trial, over 160 jurors were questioned and only 11 seated. Jury selection took a total of four days.
Hoose and Luke Ryan were the defense lawyers in the Rintala trial, which ended in a mistrial so will be tried again.
Monday May 6, 2013 1:04
Baye has been standing for these many hours with his lawyers at sidebar, hands in his pockets or clasped in front of him, listening to the discussions about who will be deciding his fate.
Monday May 6, 2013 1:07
We have a fifth juror, a woman.
Monday May 6, 2013 1:10
During jury selection for the Rintala trial in Hampshire County, it seemed many people in the jury pool were full time students, so they were excused.
Given the age range in the jury pool here today, that is probably not a large factor.
Monday May 6, 2013 1:15
Although court usually breaks for lunch at 1 p.m., it appears Sweeney is going to keep going through the handfull of people left in the courtroom before the break.
Monday May 6, 2013 1:16
All jurors brought into the courtroom this morning have been questioned. The five jurors selected are excused for lunch and warned not to talk about the case or read anything about it.
A new group of prospective jurors will be brought down this afternoon. Court will resume at 2:15 p.m.
Monday May 6, 2013 1:25
Plans have just changed so there won't be any jury selection this afternoon.
Sweeney just told the lawyers she had carefully made arrangements a long time ago with the jury commission to have 100 more prospective jurors than the usual amount, so she could use all 200 or so for this trial each day of selection.
She said she had expected to have 100 fresh jurors this afternoon. She learned during the break a civil session took the about 100 jurors Sweeney expected to use this afternoon. That session selected a jury.
Sweeney asked lawyers if they wanted to this afternoon question the jurors that had already been through a selection process for the civil trial and been excused or not selected. The lawyers said it was probably not a good use of time.
Sweeney said tomorrow she will make sure no other Superior Court judge uses any jurors since she has them reserved.
Monday May 6, 2013 2:41
The five jurors who have been selected today are being instructed not to talk about the case or watch or read any media.