The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has thrown out the alleged confession of Anthony Baye, a Northampton man who admitted to setting a series of fires in the city in late 2009. One of the fires resulted in the death of two Northampton residents.
The court ruled Monday state troopers used a number of problematic tactics and made “misrepresentations” to Baye while interrogating him about the fires, including minimizing his crimes and assuring him he would get leniency if he admitted to setting the fires. David Hoose, one of Baye’s attorneys, says he’s pleased with the decision and that the state’s prosecutors have lost a key piece of evidence.
“So without those statements, the commonwealth has a very circumstantial case.”
Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan said in a statement that he is disappointed with the ruling, but, “there is sufficient evidence, apart from the suppressed confessions, to continue with the prosecution.”
The court’s ruling cites two instances where state troopers ignored Baye’s request for council, violating his constitutional rights. Northampton attorney Don Frank says he thinks the court made the right decision in throwing out Baye’s confession.
“In this case, the court was quite comfortable finding that this did not pass constitutional muster, and under these circumstances, the government can’t use this. It’s the difference between a great society and a totalitarian society. So, bad for the case, good for democracy.”
The district attorney’s office says it will work with the court and defense attorneys to set a trial date as soon as possible.