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Body of Missing Pittsfield Man Recovered

Berkshire News Network

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield Police say they recovered the body of an elderly man who they believe is 61-year-old Francis Rocca, an Alzheimer’s patient who left his Francis Avenue home on July 13.

Police said the body was discovered early Thursday afternoon with the help of a specially trained corpse-sniffing dog in a heavily wooded area off Turner Avenue near the west branch of the Housatonic River.

Police were waiting for an official ID on the body but based on clothing and jewelry found on the body, investigators believe the dead man is Rocca. An autopsy is scheduled for Friday at the state medical examiner's office in Holyoke. Police say the death does not appear suspicious and indicated Rocca had been dead for some time.

Rocca, a carpenter and a veteran, has been suffering from Alzheimer's for two years. He reportedly spit out his medication on the night he left his home. Police were also hoping to come upon Robert DeFreest with the help of the dog. DeFreest, a homeless man, hasn't been seen since June 2009.

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Pittsfield Woman Pleads Guilty in Husband's Slaying

Staff Reports

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A Pittsfield woman pleaded guilty to a single count of involuntary manslaughter on Friday morning in Berkshire Superior Court in the stabbing death of her husband, Arthur Martin, a year ago.

Sentencing for Charlene Grandson, Martin, 46, of West Street, was continued by Judge John A. Agostini until 2 p.m. on July 8.

Arthur Martin, 49, died Feb. 8 at Berkshire Medical Center from a stab wound inflicted the night before. Grandson Martin had told police her husband had the knife and they were joking around when he was struck by the knife as she pushed is arm away.

Police said an investigation found her story didn't match the facts.

For last year's articles, click here.
 

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Morningside Initiative to Hold Neighborhood Watch Meeting

Staff reports

PITTSFIELD, Mass. —  This Thursday, the Morningside Initiative's Crime Prevention and Public Safety subcommittee will hold a neighborhood watch meeting. People who live, work or own property in the Morningside Initiative area are invited to attend the meeting, which will be held at the Morningside Community School cafeteria, 100 Burbank St., from 6 to 8 p.m.

The Morningside Initiative area includes East Street from Park Square up North Street to Springside Avenue to Benedict Road, to Tyler Street ext. to Woodlawn Avenue, Kellogg Street to Fourth Street around Silver Lake Boulevard, back on East Street returning to Park Square. (If that sounds confusing, here's a map).

For more information, contact Ashley James at 413-448-9678.
 

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Pittsfield Issues Motorized Vehicle Reminder

Staff Reports

The City of Pittsfield has issued a reminder that the use of motorized off-road vehicles is prohibited within city parks, conservation areas and school grounds.  According to the City, numerous residents have complained regarding this issue, and the City "intends to address the problem aggressively," with the Pittsfield Police Department "strictly enforcing this and other park rules and regulations."

 Fines for unauthorized use of off-road vehicles within the parks can be up to $200 per offense, and more if malicious damage occurs.  Residents are encouraged to contact the Pittsfield Police Department if they observe off-road vehicles operating on any city lands. For more information, call 413-499-9344.

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Three More Arraigned in Martin Murder

Staff Reports

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Two more people were arraigned Monday morning in the murder of 26-year-old Jahda M. Martin, who was stabbed outside a Pittsfield nightspot in the early hours of March 6, 2010. Martin later died of his injuries at Berkshire Medical Center.

Allen McGraw, 26, was arrested Sunday and Crystal Gonzalez, 21, on Friday evening. They both appeared before Judge Frederic Rutberg in Central Berkshire District Court.

McGraw, of Kingston, N.Y., had not-guilty pleas entered in his behalf on single counts of murder and assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon. Rutberg ordered him held at the Berkshire County House of Correction without the right to bail. He is scheduled to appear in district court for a pretrial hearing on April 8.

Gonzalez, of Springfield, had not-guilty pleas entered on her behalf on single counts of accessory after the fact to murder and accessory after the fact to assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon. She was ordered held at the House of Correction on $25,000 bail. She is scheduled back in court for a pretrial hearing on April 14.

Police say McGraw, Terrance W. Brown, Trevor L. Pryce Jr. and John C. Spratling stabbed and assaulted Martin in the Burger King parking lot by Wendell Avenue Extension. Martin, of Hamlin Street, Pittsfield, was a star athlete at Lee High School, from which he graduated in 2002. He later attended Long Island (N.Y.) University.

Brown, 26, was arrested in Springfield on the night of March 10 and returned to Pittsfield on Thursday morning, when he was charged on single counts of murder and assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon. He had not-guilty pleas entered on his behalf and was ordered, also by Rutberg, to be held at the House of Correction with out right to bail. Brown is scheduled to return to court for a pretrial hearing on April 8.

It is alleged that Gonzalez was operating the vehicle carrying Brown when he was arrested in Springfield on the Pittsfield warrant.

Pryce and Spratling were arraigned on March 8.

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