Accused serial arsonist Anthony Baye plead guilty Monday morning to 48 criminal counts against him. The change of plea comes as his trial was entering its second week. In total Baye admitted to setting 27 fires throughout the city of Northampton.
The 28-year-old didn't show much emotion as he stood before a crowded courtroom confessing to setting the spree of fires from 2007 to 2009 including one that claimed the lives of father and son Paul Yeskie Sr. and Paul Yeskie Jr.
"A community is safer now in that we have a person that stepped up to the plate today admitted his guilt and we know that there isn't somebody at large that will create a public safety risk," said Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan.
The 48 criminal counts were more than Baye was currently standing trial for because the judge had ruled earlier that this trial could only include the fires set on Dec 27, 2009.
"That was our demand for any change of plea that he be held accountable for any fires that he lit," said Sullivan.
The two charges of murder Baye was initially facing were dropped to manslaughter and a joint sentencing agreement was made to the judge. Lawyers are recommending that Baye face a 19- to 20-year sentence in prison for the manslaughter charges and 15 years probation after that with multiple conditions. At this point the district attorney would not say why the change of plea was made in the middle of the trial but did say it may be revealed during sentencing.
"Hopefully on Wednesday Mr. Baye will articulate either through his attorney or through himself why he came to the decision to change his plea," said Sullivan.
And, many victims of the fires that were in court today say they're revealed to know one and for all who is responsible.
"I'm hoping we can all move forward hopefully people can now take a deep breath a sigh of relief," said Stephen Guy whose car was destroyed and home was damaged in one of the fires Baye admitted to setting.
Sentencing is set for 9:30 a.m. at Hampshire District Court on Wednesday. At that time victims including widow Elaine Yeskie are expected to present victim witness statements to the court.
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