SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - In what would have been the second full day of testimony in his trial, Anthony Baye entered guilty pleas to arson and manslaughter charges. The 28 year-old admitted in court Monday morning to setting numerous fires in Northampton dating back to 2007, including one that killed an elderly man and his adult son.
After the announcement was made that a plea deal had been reached between the prosecution and the defense, Baye was called to the stand, where he admitted to the 48 charges, one by one, as special prosecutor Brett Vottero detailed them.
Baye officially changed his pleas from "not guilty" to "guilty" on all counts, with the exception that murder charges were reduced to manslaughter. He faced two counts of murder for setting fire to a home on Fair Street the night of December 27, 2009; killing World War II veteran Paul Yeskie and his adult son, Paul Yeskie, Jr.
The 48 charges to which Baye admitted included charges that had previously been dropped. Prosecutors had wanted all the fires Baye had set to be included in any deal.
"That step toward accountability and justice for all of the victims in the case is one that we're deeply gratified with," Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan said, adding that the people of Northampton can now rest a little easier.
"A community is safer now. We have a person that has stepped up to the plate today, admitted his guilt and we know that there isn't someone at large who will create a public safety risk."
Click here for a listing of all the fires that Baye admitted to setting.
Elaine Yeskie, widow of Paul Yeskie, Sr. and mother of Paul Yeskie, Jr. was in court for the change in plea, and appeared stunned by the developments. She did not make a public statement Monday, but is expected to make an impact statement during sentencing on Wednesday morning.
After Baye admitted to the charges, Judge Constance Sweeney brought-in the jury and informed them of the change in plea.
The trial had been held at Hampden County Superior Court in Springfield, following a request by the defense to have it moved from Northampton. On Monday, however, Sweeney agreed to a prosecution request to move sentencing back to Northampton so that more victims could make impact statements.
The prosecution is recommending Baye spend 19 to 20 years in prison for each manslaughter charge, to be served concurrently. The prison sentence would be followed by a 15-year probation period.
22News I Team Reporter Laura Hutchinson was in court Monday, and will have the latest developments and reaction on 22News starting at 5:00.