Jury selection begins Tuesday for Greenfield officer’s trial

  • Greenfield Police Sgt. James Rode in Greenfield District Court for his pretrial hearing in February. Staff File Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 1/20/2020 10:36:07 PM

GREENFIELD — Jury selection for the trial of Greenfield Police Sgt. James Rode, who is charged with negligent vehicular homicide from a 2017 incident, starts Tuesday.

The trial before Judge Lynn Connly is expected to last for about a week, according to Greenfield District Court documents.

Rode was arraigned in July 2018 on charges of negligent vehicular homicide and speeding in connection with an October 2017 fatal crash on High Street. At the arraignment, new court filings were made available regarding the Massachusetts State Police investigation into the crash, which caused the death of James Arcellana, 29, of Hinsdale, N.H.

Motor vehicle homicide is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 2½ years in prison and carries a 15-year loss of a driver’s license if convicted.

According to the Massachusetts State Police report filed by Trooper Joseph Ballou, Rode was responding to a call of an erratic operator Oct. 1, 2017 while driving a black Ford Explorer “low profile” police cruiser, “meaning it was marked with department lettering, but no overhead lightbar” when the crash occurred.

Rode was driving down High Street while Arcellana was traveling westbound on Sanderson Street in his 2010 Subaru Impreza toward the intersection of the two streets, according to the report.

“When Sgt. Rode saw Arcellana’s vehicle crossing the intersection, he applied his cruiser’s brakes and swerved left in an attempt to avoid a crash,” the police report states. “The cruiser struck the rear passenger side of Arcellana’s vehicle, causing fatal injuries to Arcellana and serious but survivable injuries to his front-seat passenger.”

According to the report, neither Rode not Arcellana was wearing a seat belt. Phone records also showed that neither operator was using his cellphone at the time of the crash.

Neither Assistant to the District Attorney Stephen Gagne nor Attorney Kevin Reddington, who is representing Rode, could be reached for comment Monday.

Reach Melina Bourdeau at mbourdeau@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 263.

Greenfield Recorder

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Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
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