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Steele-Knudslien Arraigned on Murder Charge in Superior Court

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A man accused of killing his wife was arraigned Monday morning in Berkshire Superior Court on a murder charge. 
 
Mark S. Steele-Knudslien, 47, entered a plea of not guilty of one charge of murder in connection with the death of his wife, 42-year-old Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien.
 
Steele-Knudslien allegedly beat his wife with a hammer and stabbed her on the evening of Jan. 5 in their Veazie Street home in North Adams. Police say they discovered her body, wrapped up in the basement, after her husband entered the Adams Police Station hours later to report the crime.
 
Judge John Agostini ordered Steele-Knudslien continued to be held without bail at the Berkshire County House of Correction. Steele-Knudslien had previously entered a not-guilty plea in Northern Berkshire District Court on Jan. 8.
 
The couple had apparently lived in Adams and, before that, the Springfield area before moving to North Adams last March. They were married in April 2017.
 
The investigation is being conducted by state police detectives assigned to the district attorney's office, members of the North Adams and Adams police departments and the Massachusetts State Police Crime Scene Services Section.
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Superior Court Briefs: Jan. 18

Staff Reports
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Thursday, January 18.
 
Chelsey Roy, 29, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to single counts of reckless endangerment of a child and assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon.
 
She was ordered to serve one year of a two-year sentence at the Western Massachusetts Woman's Correctional Center and placed on two-years probation. 
 
The incidents involved a child who was 11-months-old at the time between September 1, 2014 and October 5, 2014. 
 
Single counts of assault and battery upon a child with injury and assault and battery upon a child were dismissed by the state.
 
Thomas Johnson, 40, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card, and trafficking in heroin.
 
He was released on $2,500 bail. The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant at his home on December 12, 2017.
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Negotiators Talk Man Out Of Harming Self In Pittsfield Hotel Room

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police negotiators were able to talk a man out of harming himself inside a local hotel room.

 
The Berkshire County Special Response Team successfully convinced the unnamed individual who had reportedly threatened to harm himself after three hours at the Econo Lodge on Cheshire Road.
 
"Shortly after 9 o'clock this morning we received information through the crisis team that one of their clients had contacted clinician, despondent, possible intoxicated, and made the threats to do harm to himself. He indicated that he may have had access to a weapon," Police Chief Michael Wynn said.
 
Patrolmen located the individual's vehicle at the hotel, confirmed he was in the room, and then the Special Response Team took over the scene. 
 
Police secured the scene and negotiators with the Special Response Team eventually convinced the man to exit the room without incident.
 
"Negotiators managed to contact him by phone. They convinced him to come out. He exited and was taken into custody without incident and he is being transported to the hospital for evaluation," Wynn said.
 
Around 1 p.m. the Action Ambulance, with police escorts, took the man to Berkshire Medical Center.
 
"We did not recover a firearm. We did recover a knife," Wynn said.
 
During the three hours, other guests in the room were either evacuated or told to shelter in place.
 
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Cheshire Fire Blamed on Heating System; Structure a Total Loss

By Jack Guerino
iBerkshires Staff

The building burned to the ground. 
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The fire that destroyed a local business is believed to have started in an attached garage.
 
Fire Chief Thomas Francesconi said the blaze that razed the former Kubota dealership last week likely started from the heating system. 
 
"The Mass State Fire Marshal's office did investigate the scene the following day. The cause of the fire is officially listed as undetermined, however, both myself and the investigating marshal believe the fire started with the heating system in the garage area," Francesconi said. "This was the area of origin for the fire."
 
The fire burned the building to the ground the night of Jan 4 during a blizzard that blew through the county with extremely cold temperatures and forceful winds. The property had been purchased some months before by J. Richardson Contracting. One of the company's vans was parked in the garage.
 
The Fire Department received the call a little before 7:30 p.m. but because of the snowy condition of the sparsely traveled road the first arriving engine went off the road and the second engine lost all electric once arriving on scene and could not flow water.
 
Francesconi said the structure is a total loss.
 
"The fire already had a very firm hold on the building prior to the fire being observed then called in," he said. "Due to the weather and the remoteness of the location, the area is not heavily traveled so the fire had an opportunity to build and progress at a very high rate."
 
Even getting water to the site was a challenge and five tanker trucks were shuttling water from Hoosac Valley High School. This trip took at least 20 minutes.
 
Mutual aid was needed from surrounding communities.  Adams sent an engine while the Adams Forest Wardens, Savoy and Lanesborough departments sent tankers. Dalton Fire Department also responded.
 
The Cheshire Highway Department was able to return the engine that went off road to the road.
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Superior Court Briefs: Jan. 8 - Jan. 10

Staff Reports
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Monday, January 8.
 
Earl Howard, 24, of Springfield pleaded guilty to a single count of possession of heroin with intent to distribute.
 
He was ordered to serve two years at the Berkshire County House of Correction. The charge stems from a motor vehicle stop in Cheshire on January 29, 2017.
 
Joseph Walker, 44, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute and conspiracy to violate drug laws to wit: distribution of heroin.
 
He was given a one-year suspended sentence at the Berkshire County House of Correction and placed on one-year probation. The charge stems from a motor vehicle stop in Pittsfield on January 21, 2016.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Tuesday, January 9.
 
Varian Lefebvre, 24, of Holyoke pleaded guilty to single counts of illegal possession of a large capacity weapon, and possession of ammunition without a firearm identification car in connection with the execution of a search warrant at 144 Brayton Hill Terrace in North Adams on December 6, 2016. He also pleaded guilty to a single count of possession of heroin with intent to distribute in connection with the execution of a search warrant in Williamstown on January 18, 2017.
 
Lefebvre was ordered to serve concurrent two and a half to four years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction on the possession of heroin and illegal possession of a large capacity weapon charges. He was given concurrent time at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the other charge.
 
Single counts of conspiracy to violate drugs laws, illegal possession of a large capacity feeding device, and improper storage of a large capacity firearm were dismissed by the state.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Wednesday, January 10.
 
Brandon Green, 25, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to single counts of armed career felon, possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card, and failure to stop for a police officer.
 
He was ordered to serve three to three and a half years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction on the armed career felon charge. He was given concurrent time at the Berkshire County House of Correction on possession of ammunition charge. The other charge was placed on file.
 
The charges stem from a motor vehicle stop in Pittsfield on January 10, 2017. A single count of operating a motor vehicle with a suspended registration was dismissed by the state.
 
Thomas Nelson, 32, of Williamstown pleaded guilty to a single count of disseminating harmful matter to a minor.
 
He was placed on probation for two years. The incident occurred in Williamstown between April 1, 2016 and August 11, 2016 and involved a girl who is now 14 years old.
 
Two counts of enticing a child under the age of 16 were dismissed by the state.
 
Dante Spratlin, 32, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to single counts of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and possession of a class C substance.
 
He was ordered to serve two and a half years at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the cocaine charge and given six months, to be served on and after the first sentence, on the other charge. 
 
The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant on Daniels Avenue on August 9, 2016.
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