PITTSFIELD -- A Central Berkshire District Court judge has allowed bail for a 26-year-old ex-convict who is accused of beating a man and holding a woman at gunpoint earlier this month.
After a dangerousness hearing late last week, Judge Frederic D. Rutberg set bail at $20,000 cash or $200,000 surety bond for James L. Cromartie of Dalton Avenue in Pittsfield. He is due back in court next month.
If Rutberg deemed Cromartie to be a danger to society, he could have ordered the defendant held in the House of Correction for up to 90 days without bail.
Cromartie is charged with two counts of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, and one count of assault with a dangerous weapon.
According to police, Cromartie allegedly entered the Westminster Street apartment of a 27-year-old woman on the night of March 16, displayed a pistol, shoved her against a wall, then beat her 23-year-old boyfriend, breaking his nose and wrist.
The attack was conducted as retribution for telling Cromartie's girlfriend where another one of his girlfriends lived, according to statements the alleged victims made to police.
Neither of the alleged victims testified at Friday's hearing. Assistant District Attorney Dana Parsons said the couple have fled the state. They were frightened by threats they had received and because their apartment had been broken into following the alleged attack, she said.
Attorney Robert D. Sullivan Jr., who represented Cromartie, told the court that the important issue in the case was whether his client had a gun when the attack took place.
"There was no gun in this case," he said.
A weapon was never recovered because one hadn't been used, he added.
Referring to testimony from the female victim, Sullivan said it wasn't believable that she could have precisely identified the type of gun -- a black and silver Ruger 9mm pistol -- that his client had allegedly used.
"You'd be more likely to have other thoughts going through your head like, ‘Am I going to be shot?'" he told the court.
The male victim never mentioned that a gun had been used, Sullivan added.
The police report states that Cromartie kicked, punched and threw the man, hit him with a coffee table and stomped on his head. But the report contains no mention of a gun.
If a fight did take place, Sullivan said it was mostly likely "mutual combat."
Gina Divola, Cromartie's girlfriend, told the court the couple had moved to Pittsfield from the Boston area about eight months ago after Cromartie was released from prison, where he was serving a sentence for illegal gun possession.
"We wanted to get a new start," she told the court.
She said Cromartie didn't have a gun on the night of March 16, doesn't own a firearm, and had never been violent toward her.
Cromartie has 11 previous convictions for violent offenses, Parsons said.
She said the District Attorney's Office may present Cromartie's case to a grand jury.