Guilty plea in 2016 Amherst incident resulting in death of 19-year-old

Date: 
01.17.2019

Zachary Bassett, 24,  pleaded guilty, today, in Hampshire Superior Court to Improper Storage of a Large-Capacity Firearm Near a Minor in connection with the Dec. 10, 2016 death of Joseph Pearson, 19, of Amherst.

Bassett admitted to bringing a .22 gauge semi-automatic rifle and a magazine with seven live rounds of ammunition to a gathering that included minors in Amherst.  Pearson, who was at the gathering, pulled the trigger, fatally shooting himself.

Judge Karen Goodwin sentenced Bassett to  2 ½ years in the Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction, 12 months of which he has to serve, with the balance suspended for 1 1/2 years, during which time Bassett will be on probation with numerous conditions, including that he must surrender the rifle to a police station for destruction.

​Assistant District Attorney Matthew Thomas argued that Bassett should be sentenced to 4 years in state prison.  Bassett’s attorney Luke Ryan asked for 3 years of probation.