Convicted arsonist Anthony Baye was sentenced Wednesday in Northampton, Massachusetts to up to 20 years in prison and 15 years’ probation for setting 27 fires in that city between 2007 and 2009. Baye plead guilty to two counts of manslaughter and many arson related charges on Monday, just days after the start of his trial. The sentence brings closure to a long recovery process for the city.
Judge Constance Sweeney, prosecutors, and Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan echoed a similar sentiment:
“The citizens of Northampton were true victims in this case,” says Sullivan, “but they did something that we can all be very, very proud of, and that was they wanted the justice system to work.”
State Prosecutor Brett Vottero says a plea bargain became a viable option last Saturday, a day after the first witness testimonies. But he says there was no new evidence to influence Baye’s plea.
“In the end, I think we were successful because we had the truth, and the truth generally wins.”
Defense attorney David Hoose declined to comment on most details of how the plea came about. But one factor was the prosecution’s offer of a reduction of charges from first degree murder to manslaughter.
“And that was obviously a significant gesture in terms of getting this resolved,” says Hoose.
Before he was sentenced, victims of the fires testified in a somber court hearing. Elaine Yeskie, the widow of Paul Yeskie, Senior and mother of Paul Yeskie, Junior, the two men who died in one of the 2009 fires, spoke briefly. Her granddaughter, Erica Desreuisseau read a longer statement on Elaine Yeskie’s behalf and spoke after the hearing. She says the resolution is bittersweet.
“It’s nice to hear that he’s taking credit for what he’s done, but at the same time, you can never get back what’s been lost,” says Desreeuisseau.
Desreuisseau says she and her mother have lived with Yeskie since the fire. Baye will be transferred to Cedar Junction prison in Walpole, Massachusetts.