Top Arson Prosecutor Picked for Baye Arson-Murder Case
Former Hampden County ADA Brett Vottero, sworn in as a special prosecutor on Dec. 16, has taken over the Tony Baye arson-murder case.
NORTHAMPTON – A veteran arson prosecutor who racked up more than 100 arson convictions in Hampden County and served as a statewide arson prosecutor for then-Attorney General Scott Harshbarger in 1996-98 has been hired to prosecute the Anthony Baye arson case.
According to a press release today from DA-Elect David Sullivan, outgoing Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel has appointed Brett Vottero as a special assistant DA here; he will continue handling the case after Sullivan takes office Jan. 5.
“It’s a very important case and I’m grateful to be working on it,” Vottero, 50, told Northampton Media in an interview Thursday.
“There is no one better prepared to help handle this tragic and complex case than Brett Vottero,” Sullivan said in prepared remarks. “I am grateful that he has agreed to serve the Northwestern District as a Special Assistant District Attorney.”
Vottero, a longtime assistant DA in Hampden County, quit his post in late 2008, reportedly over a disagreement with then-boss Hampden County DA William Bennett concerning a sexual harassment issue within the DA’s office. And earlier this year, Vottero launched an unsuccessful bid to replace DA Bennett, who did not seek re-election. (To see a January 2010 story in the Springfield Republican, click here.)
At the time he quit the Hampden DA’s office, Vottero was chief of the homicide unit.
Vottero said he has been working as a private-practice lawyer in Springfield handling criminal and civil cases, a business he is now wrapping up for now to take the job here.
On Dec. 16, Vottero was sworn in as a special prosecutor following the appointment by Scheibel, whom Vottero thanked for being “very gracious” in giving him access to the case files. He said he has already started going through the files, using a desk in the DA’s offices off Pleasant Street here.
Vottero is taking over prosecution of the case from outgoing Assistant DA Michael Cahillane, who was also a candidate for DA this fall, having lost a September primary race against Sullivan, who was the Hampshire County Register of Probate (a post Sullivan will resign from effective Jan. 4.). Cahillane is leaving his ADA job here to take a Superior Court prosecutor’s position in Bristol County. (See story here.)
Vottero, who has lectured on and assisted in arson investigations and training around the region and the U.S., said he loved the work, in part because it combines numerous disciplines: science, the law, logic, training. “It’s a very interesting field,” he said.
Scheibel and Vottero crossed paths years ago, when the two worked for former Hampden County DA Matthew “Matty” Ryan; Vottero started there in 1988.
Baye, 26, was arrested days after a string of 15 fires were set in homes, cars and private property throughout the city early on Dec. 27, 2009. A fire set on the porch of 17 Fair St. killed Paul Yeskie Sr. and his son Paul Yeskie Jr. Baye, who worked as a cook in a downtown restaurant, faces two counts of murder and 42 other related charges, according to Sullivan’s press release.
Earlier this week, a vigil was held in the neighborhood to mark the one-year anniversary of the Yeskies’ deaths and the night of terror many city residents will never forget. Police built their case against Baye after executing a search warrant of his car and Hawley Street apartment, near the scenes of numerous other fires that plagued the neighborhood over 2007-08.
Baye is scheduled to appear in Hampshire Superior Court on Jan. 20 for a pre-trial status hearing.
© 2010 Northampton Media
Mary Serreze contributed to this story
David Reid can be reached at email@example.com