Massachusetts man pleads guilty to arson spree that killed two

Reuters News
Posted: May 13, 2013 5:32 PM

By Zach Howard

NORTHAMPTON, Massachusetts (Reuters) - A man accused of setting a series of fires that killed a father and son and terrorized a western Massachusetts college town three years ago pleaded guilty on Monday to manslaughter and dozens of other criminal charges.

Prosecutors had accused Anthony Baye, 28, of setting at least 15 separate fires in homes, cars and buildings in Northampton, Massachusetts, on December 27, 2009.

One blaze took the lives of Paul Yeskie Sr. and his disabled son, Paul Jr., who were unable to escape their home as it burned. Dozens of other residents of the small city that is home to Smith College were left homeless after the fires.

During the sixth day of the trial at Hampden Superior Court in Springfield, Massachusetts, Baye pleaded guilty to 48 counts linked to fires in 2009 and 2007, as well as to charges of lying to law enforcement officials during the investigation in December 2009 and January 2010, prosecutors said in a statement.

Charges included two counts of manslaughter, four counts of armed burglary, six counts of misleading police, and 15 counts of setting fires to or attempting to set fires, it added.

Appearing before Judge Constance Sweeney, Baye admitted his guilt to each charge but he offered no explanation for setting the fires. Six homes were set ablaze and nine vehicles burned.

On Friday, more than a dozen witnesses had testified about waking up to or arriving home to the late night fires.

In an agreed recommendation with the defense, prosecutors asked that Baye be sentenced to 19 to 20 years in state prison on the manslaughter charges, followed by 15 years of probation.

Baye is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday in Northampton's Hampshire Courthouse.

(Reporting by Zach Howard; Editing by Scott Malone and Eric Beech)