Hadley man sentenced to probation in Amherst car break-in

Staff Writer
Thursday, February 22, 2018

NORTHAMPTON — A Hadley man who admitted to a judge Feb. 13 that he gave his grandparents “a lot” of undeserved grief was sentenced to a year of probation for breaking into a car parked in Amherst.

Elijah James Tessier, 20, pleaded guilty in Hampshire Superior Court to charges of larceny over $250 and breaking and entering a vehicle in the daytime.

Tessier and two other people — Alexandra Brewer, of Holyoke, and Gregory Collison, whose address is listed as the streets of Amherst — broke into a 2004 GMC Envoy around 3:45 p.m. on Aug. 21, 2017, and allegedly stole a cup filled with change and a drill set. Both Brewer and Collison were charged in the incident and pleaded not guilty.

Surveillance footage captured the three going into the car, removing the change cup and the drill set and then leaving, according to Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Anne Yereniuk. The drill set was sold to a pawnshop in Holyoke, Yereniuk said.

Yereniuk asked that Tessier be sentenced to six months in jail followed by two years of probation. Yereniuk argued that since Tessier’s arraignment on the charges in December “challenges don’t nearly describe” how he has fared on pretrial conditions.

Two days after his arraignment, Tessier was called into probation for a drug screen and left before successfully completing the process and was later picked up on a warrant, according to Yereniuk. In January, Tessier checked himself out of a short-term treatment center, which was also against the condition of his release, according to Yereniuk.

Probation, Yereniuk stated, would help him get the kind of structure and support he needed to help him deal with “very difficult mental health and drug dependencies.”

Tessier’s attorney David Mintz argued that the sentence be continued without a finding of guilty following one year of probation. Mintz told Judge Richard Carey that Tessier has faced “a lot of challenges and trauma,” but all the while has had the support of his maternal grandparents, Dale and Richard Tessier.

In asking for the probationary sentence, Mintz told the judge “it was a bit of stretch,” but Tessier was a “young man who has a bright future ahead of him.”

After hearing both attorneys, Carey addressed the elder Tessiers from the bench asking if there was anything they would like add. Elijah Tessier’s grandfather, Richard, said the couple has been there since Elijah was born but that he needed help straightening out his life.

“We’re here to support him but we’re looking for help,” Richard Tessier said.

After hearing from Elijah’s grandparents, Carey turned to the young man himself and asked him what he thought about all of it.

“I know I messed up,” he said.

Reflecting on his time in jail, Tessier said he didn’t want to end up like some of the men he has met while incarcerated, who started getting in trouble when they were his age and are now 50.

“How are you enjoying jail?” Carey inquired.

“It’s not the best. In some ways it’s good to get a mental break,” Tessier said. “In other ways, there is more I could be getting from other situations.”

Carey then asked how much grief Tessier gave to his grandparents over the last few years and how much of that they deserved, to which Tessier replied “a lot” and “none of it,” respectively. Tessier told the judge he has blamed them for a lot of things in his life that they were not responsible for and that he was working on dealing with his issues.

In handing down the probationary sentence, Carey told Tessier he was now at a fork in the road — he could either continue down the path he was on and enter a cycle of coming in-and-out of jail or he could recognize that he has a brain and a family who loved him.

Emily Cutts can be reached at ecutts@gazettenet.com.