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New Marlborough Man Pleads Guilty to Mom's Murder

Staff Reports

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A New Marlborough man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to murdering his mother three years ago.

Rodney M. Ball, 38, was given a life sentence in the murder of 55-year-old Donna Agar, to be served at the Massachusetts Correctional Facility at Cedar Junction.

Appearing before Judge John A. Agostini on Tuesday afternoon, Ball pleaded guilty to single counts of murder in the second degree and illegal possession of a firearm, for which he was given a concurrent 2 1/2- to three-year prison sentence.

Ball, a lumber yard worker, had been held without bail at the Berkshire County House of Correction since first being arraigned on Agar's murder in March 2008.

Agar was found in a pool of blood at her home on Clayton Mill River Road in Southfield on the afternoon of March 16, 2008, after state police were contacted to do a wellness check after Ball drove her minivan to confront his estranged wife. Ball arrived at the scene while police were there and they found a rifle in the vehicle.

An autopsy found Agar had died from multiple stab wounds to the neck and chest and loss of blood. Ball, then living on Clark Way, told investigators his mother had killed herself.

The investigation was conducted by members of the New Marlborough and Sheffield police departments, state police detectives assigned to the district attorney's office, troopers assigned to the Lee barracks and the Crime Scene Services Section of the state police.   

Tags: murder      

Police Identify Body Found at Canoe Meadows

Staff Reports

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The body of a woman found Wednesday, Feb. 23, in Canoe Meadows wildlife sanctuary has been identified as Beverly Tanner, 57.

Tanner, whose last known address was on North Street, had not been seen since early January. Police say she was not reported missing.

The body was reportedly found by a couple of snowshoers off Wolf Pine Trail in the 262-acre sanctuary. It was fully dressed, frozen and partially covered with snow. A backpack was next to it. The death is being investigated but Detective Capt. Patrick F. Barry told The Berkshire Eagle on last week that foul play was not suspected.

The preliminary ruling on the death is suicide, pending toxicology results, according to the district attorney's office.  An autopsy was performed on Friday in Boston by Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Henry Nields.

Anyone with information concerning Tanner's whereabouts or who may have had contact with her since early January is asked to contact the Pittsfield Police Department at 413-448-9700.

Tags: body, missing person, suicide      

Superior Court Briefs: Feb. 22-25

Staff Reports

Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Tuesday, Feb. 22.

Travis G. Bateman, 35, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to single counts of distribution of cocaine and manufacturing cocaine.

Agostini ordered that he serve concurrent 3 1/2- to five-year state prison sentences at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction on both charges.      
 
The charges stem from the sale of cocaine in Pittsfield on April 20, 2009, and the execution of a search warrant at a home in Pittsfield on July 17, 2009.
 
The investigation was conducted by members of the Berkshire County Drug Task Force. 

Aaron Provencher, 36, of New Windsor Road, Hinsdale, had not-guilty pleas entered on his behalf on three counts of dissemination of visual material of a child in a state of nudity or sexual conduct and 12 counts of knowingly possessing visual material of a child depicted in sexual conduct.

He was released on personal recognizance. The incidents are alleged to have occurred in Hinsdale between November 10, 2009, and December 1, 2009.

The investigation was conducted by state police detectives assigned to the district attorney's office.

Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Wednesday, Feb. 23

Adam Smith, 31, of Second Street, Pittsfield, had not-guilty pleas entered on his behalf for single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute (second offense), manufacturing cocaine (second offense), possession of methadone with intent to distribute (second offense), possession of marijuana with intent to distribute (second offense), four counts of drug violations in a school zone and possession of ammunition without a firearm indentification card.

He was ordered held in the House of Correction on $100,000 bail. The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant at his home on December 31, 2010.

Gregory J. Mathews Jr., 23, of Second Street, Pittsfield, had not-guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of possession of heroin, of methadone and of marijuana, each with intent to distribute; one count of manufacturing cocaine; four counts of drug violation within a school zone and single count of possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card.

He was ordered held at the House of Correction with $2,500 bail.

The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant at his home on December 31, 2010, and the investigation was conducted by the Pittsfield Police Department.  

Christopher C. Mead, 28, and Elizabeth J. Mead, aka Elizabeth J. Rogers, 32, both of East Street, Pittsfield, both pleaded guilty to one count of possession of heroin.

Each was ordered to pay a $500 fine. The charge stems from a motor vehicle stop in Pittsfield on July 26, 2010.

•  Jeffrey A. Williamson, 47, had not-guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of distribution of cocaine and possession of cocaine, both second offenses.

He was ordered held at the House of Correction on $5,000 cash or $50,000 surety bail.

It is alleged that Williamson sold cocaine on December 6, 2010, and was in possession of cocaine with intent to sell the drug when he was arrested on December 7, 2010. The incidents are alleged to have occurred in Pittsfield.

 

All information provided by the district attorney's office.

Tags: drugs, cocaine, sex crime, children, pornography, heroin, methadone, cocaine      

Convicted Ex-Priest Sentenced to 25 Years

Staff Reports

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Gary Mercure, 62, was sentenced on Wednesday afternoon in Berkshire Superior Court to up to 25 years in prison for sexual assaults against two boys two decades ago.

Mercure, a former priest in Troy, N.Y., was found guilty Feb. 10 of three counts of rape of a child with force and a a single count of indecent assault and battery on a child under age 14.

The charges relate to assualts on two men, who are now ages 35 and 34, that occurred in Berkshire County. A Berkshire Superior Court jury deliberated for two hours before returning guilty verdicts.

Judge John A. Agostini ordered Mercure to serve concurrent 20-to-25-year sentences on the rape charges at the Massachusetts Correctional Facility at Cedar Junction. He was given a concurrent 3-to-5-year prison sentence on the assault and battery conviction.

 


By: Staff Reports On: 03:34PM / Thursday, February 10, 2011

Former New York Priest Guilty of Abuse

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A former Catholic priest was found guilty on Thursday morning in Berkshire Superior Court of sexual assault charges dating back more than 20 years.

The jury deliberated for two hours over two days before returning its verdict against Gary Mercure, 62, of Troy, N.Y.

Mercure was found guilty on two counts of rape of a child with force and one count of indecent assault and battery on a child under age 14 in connection with an incident involving a man who is now 35 years of age. The incidents occurred in Great Barrington or Monterey between Sept. 1, 1986, and Dec. 31, 1986.

He also waso found guilty of one count of rape of a child with force in connection with an incident involving a man who is now 34 years of age.

That incident occurred in New Ashford between Feb. 1, 1989, and Feb. 28, 1989.

The victims said the abuse began with they were altar boys in Mercure's church in Queensbury, N.Y. Both said they were taken to the Berkshires and assualted; one at a parking area off the Appalachian Trail and the other in the parking lot of the former Brodie Mountain Ski Area.

Mercure was suspended from his church in 2008 and later defrocked after allegations arose of abuse of altar boys in the 1980s. Two men came forward claiming the abuse had occurred on trips to Massachusetts and Vermont as well as in New York. The statute of limitations had lapsed in New York State for both criminal and civil suits, leading prosecutors to reach out to their Massachusetts counterparts.

Mercure's attorney, Michael O. Jennings, argued physical evidence and scientific evidence was lacking and that the allegations of assaults in the Berkshires were fabricated to allow proceedings in Massachusetts.

Jurors, however, believed Berkshire First Assistant District Attorney Paul J. Caccaviello's description of a sexual predator who knew no state boundaries.
 
Judge John Agostini ordered that Mercure be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction without bail pending sentencing which will occur on Wednesday, Feb. 16, at 2 p.m.  
 
The investigation was conducted by state police detectives assigned to the district attorney's office.

Tags: assault, sex abuse      

Pittsfield Couple Sues Hotel After Son Chokes On Condom

Tammy Daniels

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The court will hear the case of a Pittsfield couple who is suing Hilton Hotels after her 2-year-old son choked on a used condom left by a prior guest, the Philadelphia Daily News reported on Friday.

A U.S. district justice cited "unique circumstances" that will have a jury determine if Amy Wolfe suffered emotional distress following the incident. Wolfe claims that she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and sees a psychiatrist, the paper reported.

According to reports at the time, Wolfe and her husband Steven were staying at Homewood Suites, owned by Hilton Hotels, in New Jersey last Jan. 2 when the 2-year-old found and began chewing on a used condom. He then began choking on it and ingested "the contents."

Wolfe was tending to another child in the bathroom when she heard the youngest of three, Ryan, choking. She ran in and removed it from his throat.

The child did not contract a sexually transmitted disease or any other illness but Wolfe claims developmental delays are a result of the trauma.

Attorneys for the hotel claim that she can not claim that because the child did not suffer serious physical injury or death, a claim that has succeeded in dismissing similar cases.

Tags: Lawsuit      
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