No Murder Indictment in North Adams StabbingStaff reports
05:02PM / Tuesday, December 16, 2008
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A Berkshire County grand jury has declined to indict a New York man in the stabbing death of Daniel J. Walters, 24, of North Adams. It did, however, return indictments on a variety of charges against him and seven others connected to circumstances surrounding the death.
The grand jury heard two days of testimony from witnesses and police officers before voting not to charge Ronnell Garmie, 19, of the Bronx, N.Y., for either murder or manslaughter. It returned no bills on both indictments considered.
Garmie allegedly stabbed Walters during a scuffle at a residence in Wheel Estates Mobile Home Park in North Adams on Aug. 20. Walters, said police, was trying to steal cocaine from Garmie.
According to the three-month investigation, Walters, his mother, Constance Pratt, and his girlfriend, Monique M. Rock, drove to Tina Senecal's mobile home on Navajo Drive in the early hours of Aug. 20 with a plan to steal a quantity of cocaine from Garmie. Investigators say Senecal was allowing Garmie to stay at the mobile home and use it as a base for his alleged cocaine distribution.
Walters was stabbed during the attempted heist; Garmie allegedly fled the scene. He was arrested the next morning at his mother's home in the Bronx.
Garmie, also known as "Clue," was arraigned on one count of murder in Northern Berkshire District Court on Sept. 10. However, the grand jury declined to indict him on that charge, which would have moved it to Superior Court.
He was indicted drug charges and was arraigned Monday afternoon in Berkshire Superior Court on single counts of trafficking in cocaine and conspiracy to violate drug laws (distribution of cocaine). Not-guilty pleas were entered on his behalf and Judge John A. Agostini ordered him held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $100,000 bail.
Police say Garmie had more than 28 grams of cocaine in his possession on Aug. 20. It is also alleged that he conspired with other others to sell cocaine in North Adams between Aug. 1 and Aug. 20.
Senecal, 52, was indicted on single counts of trafficking in cocaine, conspiracy to violate drug laws (distribution of cocaine) and furnishing misleading information to a police officer. She is scheduled to be arraigned on Dec. 29.
Pratt, 44, also known as Constance Winnie, of Williamstown and Rock, of North Adams, were both indicted on single counts each of attempting to commit a crime (larceny from a person) and furnishing misleading information to a police officer.
Police say the two gave false information to officers during the initial stages of the investigation. They also are scheduled to be arraigned in Superior Court on Dec. 29.
Four others were also indicted on charges of aiding Garmie or being involved in drug trafficking.
Shelley L. Nichlen, 28, of North Adams, also known as Michele Nichlen and as "Sassy," and Wayne A. Senecal Jr., 22, of North Adams (who authorities say is not related to Tina Senecal) were each indicted on single counts of furnishing misleading information to a police officer. Police say the pair both helped Garmie after he allegedly fled the scene and then misled police investigators.
Nichlen is scheduled to be arraigned on Dec. 30 and Senecal on Jan. 5, both in Superior Court.
Also indicted were Brenda L. Blasi, 40, and Kathleen Lear, 46, also known as Catherine Lear, both of North Adams on single counts each of conspiracy to violate drug laws (distribution of cocaine). Authorities say Blasi and Lear prepared and delivered cocaine for Garmie as well as drumming up new customers.
Blasi is to be arraigned on Dec. 29 in Superior Court and Lear on Dec. 30
The investigation was conducted by state police detectives assigned to the district attorney's office, who were aided by members of the North Adams Police Department.
Information supplied by the district attorney's office.