SJC upholds 2007 murder conviction of Greenfield man for strangulation of Deerfield gas station attendant


Staff Writer

Published: 07-17-2023 6:20 PM

GREENFIELD — The state’s highest court on Monday upheld the 2007 conviction of a Greenfield man serving two consecutive life sentences in prison for the strangulation death of Brandy Waryasz and her unborn son two years earlier at a Deerfield gas station.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision a jury made following the 12-day trial of Dennis M. Bateman, who was found guilty on two counts of first-degree murder and one count of armed robbery for stealing the cash register from the Sunoco station on Routes 5 and 10 in Deerfield after he killed Waryasz, a 21-year-old gas station employee.

Attorney Amy Codagnone argued on Bateman’s behalf and in her appeal of the murder convictions, claimed the trial was “infected by errors” as a result of numerous decisions by Superior Court Judge John A. Agostini. According to the Northwestern district attorney’s office, Codagnone’s issues included Agostini’s denial of a motion for a change of trial venue. She also cited a confession Bateman allegedly made to a fellow inmate, who Codagone argued was working as a government agent.

“We disagree in all respects,” the 60-page SJC decision reads. “Having reviewed the entire record ... we discern no basis to set aside or reduce the verdicts of murder in the first degree or to order a new trial.”

Assistant District Attorney Thomas H. Townsend, chief of the appeals unit for Northwestern district attorney’s office, argued on behalf of the state before the SJC in December 2022.

“We’re pleased they accepted our arguments,” he said in a statement Monday. “It was a long road to get to this point, but we made it.”

In his victim-impact statement in May 2007, Waryasz’s brother, Brian Cousineau, told the court his sister and her unborn child were killed on his birthday. He said that he had planned to bring his sister a plate from the barbecue he was having and wondered if Waryasz would have remained alive if he had decided to do so sooner.

The day of Waryasz’s murder was also the day before her mother’s birthday. Ruth Cousineau died in April 2019 — 14 years to the month her daughter was killed. Her obituary mentions she was predeceased by her daughter and grandson, who was posthumously named Dane Anthony Hall. Waryasz was seven months pregnant when she died.

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Reached via email, Bethany Waryasz, Brandy’s sister, said the ruling upholding the conviction means justice will continue to be served for Brandy and Dane.

“They meant and still mean the world to us. Time cannot change that,” she said. “My sister didn’t get to see her nieces be born, she didn’t get to meet the most amazing sister-in-law in the world. My nephew didn’t get to experience kindergarten, he would be graduating, possibly with a partner he is excited to start his adult life with. You can’t put a measurement to the pain that hits when you see places that you’ve been together, as you reach milestones that were once dreamed of doing together. No amount of time takes away that pain.”

On the evening of April 16, 2005, Waryasz was strangled in a garage bay of the Sunoco gas station, where she worked.

Prosecutors said Bateman, a crack addict and career thief, went to the Sunoco station that day to try to persuade Waryasz, whom he knew from social gatherings, to participate in a staged robbery so he could get money to buy drugs. When Waryasz refused to join in on the fraud, prosecutors said, Bateman dragged her into the garage, wrapped a nylon strap around her neck and strangled her to death. He then ran off with the cash register.

According to testimony in the case, Bateman was seen at the gas station by a number of witnesses shortly before the murder. His DNA was also found in large amounts on the murder weapon and under Waryasz’s fingernails from where she had apparently tried to fend him off.

Bateman maintained his innocence throughout the murder trial and cited racial discrimination and prejudice as reasons for his arrest days after the murders. He admitted to being at the gas station on the day of the murders, but claims he was there earlier in the day.

At the time of his murder conviction, his wife, Suzanne Bateman, said she did not believe he committed the crimes. “He’s still innocent and I will maintain that until the day I die,” she was quoted as saying.