Attorney: Gill man not competent for trial

  • Chief Trial Counsel Jeremy Bucci, left, and defense attorney Alfred P. Chamberland appear in Franklin County Superior Court on Thursday. Chamberland represents Wesley Johnson, the Gill man accused of shooting at another man and that man’s girlfriend, in July 2021. Bucci was filling in for Assistant District Attorney Matthew Thomas, who is prosecuting the case for the state. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • Gill resident Wesley Johnson, pictured in Greenfield District Court in August 2021. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 9/22/2022 5:15:29 PM
Modified: 9/22/2022 5:14:51 PM

GREENFIELD — The attorney for the Gill man who is facing charges for allegedly shooting at another man and that man’s girlfriend will soon provide the prosecution with an expert’s report stating his client has dementia and is not competent to stand trial.

Wesley Johnson, 65, of Main Road in Gill, pleaded not guilty in November 2021 to two counts of armed assault with intent to murder, two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, and a single count of possession of a firearm without an FID card. His lawyer, Alfred P. Chamberland, appeared before Judge John Agostini in Franklin County Superior Court on Thursday, having filed motions to provide the prosecution with a forensic psychologist’s report regarding Johnson’s mental competence and requesting to pause the case’s proceedings for six months. Agostini opted to defer ruling on the two motions and scheduled a Nov. 15 in-court conference to review the case’s status.

Chamberland said it is unlikely his client will recover from his condition, even with medication. Johnson, who has posted bail, did not appear in court Thursday.

Chief Trial Counsel Jeremy Bucci filled in for Assistant District Attorney Matthew Thomas, who is prosecuting the case for the state. Bucci told the Greenfield Recorder the state will review the psychologist’s report and determine if it wants to hire its own expert to evaluate Johnson’s competence. If the state wants to use an expert of its own, Bucci explained, the case will have to be put on hold.

Johnson was initially arraigned in Greenfield District Court in July 2021, but his case was transferred to Superior Court due to its severity. Judge Francis Flannery ruled in October 2021 that Johnson could be released from custody if he posted $2,500 bail and honored various conditions of release. Johnson must wear a GPS device, make no contact with the two alleged victims, refrain from alcohol and submit to screenings, and be in regular contact with the probation department.

Johnson’s charges stem from an incident shortly before 2 a.m. on July 22, 2021, when he got into a fight with Rufus Thomas, a man who was allowed to essentially squat on Johnson’s property. Chamberland said Thomas — who is facing his own charges — punched his client in the face. The fight allegedly started when Thomas refused Johnson’s demands to leave his property due to suspicion of dealing drugs.

According to a report from State Police Trooper Garrett Hall, he was dispatched to the Main Road property on a report of a man who had fired shots at a house. The 911 caller also stated two people had barricaded themselves in a nearby cabin for safety. While en route, Hall was advised by Trooper Anthony Martino that he was on the phone with the suspect, later identified as Johnson, who was calmly waiting for police outside the residence. Johnson declined medical treatment for a bleeding laceration on his nose. The other troopers made contact with the man and woman in the cabin.

According to Hall’s report, once troopers secured the scene and ensured all parties were accounted for, the woman who initially called 911 said everyone there had been socializing and drinking earlier in the night. But Johnson and Thomas had gotten into a physical altercation. The woman said Johnson went into his residence after the altercation and returned with a gun. She reportedly told police she had gone into the house but heard Thomas say, “What, are you going to shoot me?” She then reportedly heard multiple gunshots.

The woman allegedly told police Johnson then reentered the house and she could hear him access a safe he uses to store firearms. The woman said Johnson went outside again and she could hear several more gunshots.

Hall wrote that Johnson reportedly said his cousin left with the gun, though he later said he tossed it into the woods. The woman who had called 911 reportedly said Johnson’s cousin was not at the property during the incident. Hall reports there was a blood trail leading from Johnson’s residence to the front door of the cabin where Thomas and his girlfriend had hidden. There was also a shell casing from a .22-caliber bullet at the cabin door as well as a bullet hole, according to Hall.

Reach DomenicPoli at: or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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