PITTSFIELD, Mass. — It's taken almost exactly a dozen years, two trials and numerous twists and turns through the court system to conclude the prosecution of Aaron Kincaid of Lenox.
Kincaid, 36, pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court on Monday morning to four counts of aggravated rape from an assault on a then 27-year-old woman on Sept. 24, 1998.
He was ordered by Judge John Agostini to serve concurrent 719-day sentences, or time already served, on the four charges at the Massachusetts Correctional Institute at Cedar Junction on the recommendation of the district attorney and his attorney. He was also placed on two years' probation on the condition he have no contact with the victim and a witness during the probationary period.
"We do not always achieve all that we aspire to in every case," said District Attorney David F. Capeless in a statement. "Today's sentence is not what was handed down back in 2001, but we have realized something else, something even more significant in this singular case – a vindication of the victim and the other witnesses after all these years, an affirmation under oath that they had, indeed, told the truth."
Kincaid was guilty of the same four charges in Superior Court in September 2001 and was ordered by Judge Thomas Curley to serve concurrent 15- to 18-year sentences in Walpole.
In May 2002, Kincaid filed a motion for a new trial and a post-verdict inquiry of the jurors. He alleged that the jury learned that a co-defendant, Richard C. Lampron Jr., had fled the state. Curley, who died in 2005, interviewed all the jurors and ordered a new trial for Kincaid.
The district attorney's office appealed the ruling and the Appeals Court agreed with the prosecution that any information about Lampron's flight came from juror speculation and not from some outside sources and that the evidence at trial permitted the jurors to infer that Lampron had fled. The court also ruled that the overwhelming evidence of Kincaid's guilt outweighed any influence that this information may have had upon the jury.
The Supreme Judicial Court granted further appellate review of the Appeals Court's decision and affirmed Curley's order allowing a new trial for Kincaid. His second trial in December 2006 before Agostini resulted in a mistrial after the jury failed to deliver a verdict. Kincaid subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the indictments on double jeopardy grounds in the Superior Court. Agostini denied the motion and the Appeals Court affirmed the Superior Court's order.
Lampron was captured in Pennsylvania in 2002 and subsequently charged; he was sentenced to seven to 10 years in 2005, which he is serving concurrently with a similar sentence for his conviction on another rape in 1999. A third man, William E. Jansen of Pittsfield, was charged in October 2005. He was prosecuted along with Kincaid in the trial that ended with a hung jury. Both he and Kincaid attempted to have the charges dismissed but an Appeals Court last December upheld the indictments.
The three men were sharing an apartment in Lee when Jansen allegedly videotaped a masked Lampron and Kincaid have sex with the woman. The tape never surfaced but witnesses who saw it say the woman appeared to have been incapacitated.
Capeless, who as first assistant district attorney was the prosecuter at Kincaid's first trial, had high praise for the victim and the police investigators who have made numerous court appearances since 2000.
"I have made every effort during the past 10 years to ensure that these horrible crimes were fully investigated and vigorously prosecuted, and that the convictions obtained were forcefully defended," he said. "I am gratified that our work and the decision of the first jury has finally been vindicated. The convictions in this case came about only as the result of a dogged, professional investigation by State Police Trooper Brian Berkel, the stoic persistence of the victim in seeing the case through, the commendable actions of the other witnesses in coming forward with their information, and the support and compassion shown to these persons by victim assistance advocate Mary Shogry. I am particularly pleased for all of them."