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Northampton man gets up to 20 years for fatal fire

May 15, 2013

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (AP) — A Northampton man who admitted to a one-night arson spree that left a father and son dead and put the city on edge was sentenced Wednesday to up to 20 years in prison.

Anthony Baye, 28, was sentenced in Hampshire Superior Court to 19 to 20 years in prison and 15 years of probation after a judge heard statements from several victims, including Elaine Yeskie, whose husband Paul Yeskie Sr., 81, and son Paul Yeskie Jr., 39, died in one of the fires.

Elaine Yeskie talked about the relationship she had with her husband, how they never fought, and how he helped her escape the night of the fire Dec. 27, 2009.

“I don’t know how I got out,” she said. “I still feel responsible for not going back.”

Henry Siegel, who lost his home, said he hoped Baye understood the consequences of his actions.

“I know that inside Anthony is a normal guy like the rest of us, despite his lack of empathy,” Siegel said. “I hope one day he learns how his actions affect other people.”

Judge Constance Sweeney said the entire city was victimized. She said residents were frightened for several days before Baye’s arrest.

Baye was charged with murder in the Yeskies’ deaths. But in a surprise move in the middle of his trial, he pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of manslaughter and multiple counts of arson. As part of the deal, he also pleaded guilty to several fires set before Dec. 27, 2009.

Baye’s attorney, David Hoose, said in court that Baye was remorseful and never intended to kill anyone. In opening statements at trial, the defense had claimed Baye was wrongly accused and the prosecution had no evidence connecting him to the fires.

Baye was arrested Jan. 4, 2010, after prosecutors said he admitted in a videotaped interview with police that he set the fires. But the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in May 2012 the videotaped admissions couldn’t be used as evidence.

Prosecutors dismissed indictments against Baye and took the case to a new grand jury, which returned new indictments on murder and arson charges in July.

The trial was moved to Hampden Superior Court in Springfield to ensure an impartial jury. The case was returned to Hampshire County for sentencing.

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