Greenfield murder suspect pleads not guilty, held without bail

Taaniel Herberger-Brown, right, enters Greenfield District Court on Tuesday morning with his defense attorney Nicholas Horgan, at left, for his arraignment on a murder charge.

Taaniel Herberger-Brown, right, enters Greenfield District Court on Tuesday morning with his defense attorney Nicholas Horgan, at left, for his arraignment on a murder charge. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Taaniel Herberger-Brown, center, is arraigned in Greenfield District Court on Tuesday morning with his defense attorney Nicholas Horgan, at right.

Taaniel Herberger-Brown, center, is arraigned in Greenfield District Court on Tuesday morning with his defense attorney Nicholas Horgan, at right. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Staff Writer

Published: 07-09-2024 12:06 PM

Modified: 07-09-2024 5:16 PM


GREENFIELD — Taaniel Herberger-Brown, the Greenfield man accused of murdering Christopher Hairston, of Pittsfield, and leaving his body at his Chapman Street apartment, was held without the right to bail after he pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Tuesday morning.

After Northwestern First Assistant District Attorney Steven Gagne, who is prosecuting the case for the state, accepted defense attorney Nicholas Horgan’s motion to preserve evidence, which means to examine pieces of evidence from the case, Greenfield District Court Judge William Mazanec III ruled that Herberger-Brown be held at least until a pretrial conference on Aug. 28.

“Should you somehow gain your release in this matter, be advised, if you pick up any new charges or get into any more trouble … bail under any circumstances could be revoked and you could be held without the right to bail again,” Mazanec said to Herberger-Brown.

Herberger-Brown, 42, was arrested on a murder charge at Albany International Airport on April 23 after reports of a foul odor brought police to his former apartment at 92 Chapman St. earlier that day. Upon arrival, Greenfield Police Officer Brent Griffin discovered a decomposing body, later identified as Hairston’s.

While being investigated by Greenfield Police and Massachusetts State Police, Herberger-Brown allegedly told officers that a man, who he believed to be on drugs, had broken into his apartment and engaged in a physical altercation with him. Toward the end of the altercation, Herberger-Brown told police that the victim’s “heart stopped.”

According to a report written by State Trooper Blakely Pottinger, Herberger-Brown initially told officers that he was “in and out of hospitals” and “had not been at the apartment for several months.” The report also states the suspect told police he went to Albany International Airport with plans to visit his mother outside of the country.

“Herberger-Brown provided several different locations he was traveling to including Vancouver, Germany, Prince Edward Island and New Finland,” the report states.

A Northampton High School Class of 1999 graduate, four-year honor roll student and U.S. Navy veteran, Herberger-Brown has had earlier brushes with the law, such as an incident in February 2008, when he was arrested on kidnapping and assault charges in Northampton for allegedly “keeping his girlfriend against her will in a hotel bathroom while holding a broken ceramic dish to her neck,” according to a Daily Hampshire Gazette report.

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Herberger-Brown also is known locally for his community service. He was featured in a 2021 Washington Post article for his volunteer work at Stone Soup Cafe in Greenfield. Stone Soup Cafe Executive Director and Chef Kirsten Levitt previously referred to the suspect as a “respected and cared-for member of [the] community” at the time the article was written. Levitt said Herberger-Brown would volunteer at Stone Soup Cafe almost every week.

Horgan declined to comment on his client’s case Tuesday morning.

Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at acammalleri@recorder.com or 413-930-4429.