NORTH ADAMS -- A stoic Wayne P. Brackett Jr. had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf this morning in Northern Berkshire District Court on charges that he mutilated and killed five pet rabbits at an Ashland Street construction business last week.
Brackett, 23, of East Main Street said nothing and stared straight ahead in a protected glassed-in cubicle during his arraignment at the packed courthouse. He faces five felony counts of animal cruelty and five felony counts of killing, maiming or poisoning an animal, among other charges. He was represented by Pittsfield lawyer Richard LeBlanc of the Committee for Public Counsel Services.
Brackett told police he did not remember killing the rabbits, according to the police report: He said he had been drinking vodka heavily and had smoked marijuana last Tuesday night, when the crimes took place, and believes he blacked out.
A video surveillance camera at Berkshire County Construction showed a man matching Brackett's description unsuccessfully attempting to break into a truck, then apparently flying into a rage and tipping over a rabbit hutch. The surveillance footage showed the man ripping the ears and tails off at least one adult rabbit, flinging the pets against the building and stomping on one baby animal. Police said five rabbits were mutilated and killed, one of which was stabbed repeatedly and one of which the man hung on a chain from a fence.
Among those in the courtroom were Brackett's mother and father, Wayne and Joanne, and other family members, along with John Duquette Jr. and his wife, Tracy, owners of Berkshire County Construction and the pet rabbits.
Just before the arraignment, John Duquette approached Wayne Brackett Sr. in the courtroom, shook his hand and said he was sorry the Brackett family had to go through this. Brackett Sr. apologized to Duquette, and Duquette later said he accepted the apology.
"He's a young man who needs help, and we will stand by him," Joanne Brackett said outside the courthouse after the arraignment. "He doesn't remember a lot of it. He was obviously not in the right state of mind. When it comes back to him, he will be heartbroken that he was capable of that."
Judge Rita S. Koenigs continued the case until July 7 and ordered Wayne Brackett Jr. held in the Berkshire County House of Correction in lieu of $25,000 cash bail or $250,000 surety.