Defense: Nicolas Guaman 'Not Competent' to Stand Trial
A defense attorney representing Nicolas Guaman, an Ecuadorian immigrant accused of killing Milford motorcyclist Matthew Denice, said in court Tuesday he has an expert who will testify he is mentally incompetent.
UPDATED: Judge James Lemire is expected to take up the issue of competency and the family depositions at 2 p.m. Wednesday.
An attorney representing Nicolas Guaman, the Ecuadorian man charged in the death of Matthew Denice, said in Worcester Superior Court Tuesday that he has an expert who will testify his client is mentally incompetent to stand trial.
Guaman is charged with second-degree murder and numerous other offenses in the Aug. 20, 2011 death of Denice, a 23-year-old motorcyclist and Milford resident.
In court for a pretrial hearing, lead attorney Peter Ettenberg, of Worcester, told the judge he had an expert who would testify that Guaman is mentally incompetent to stand trial in the case, according to Paul Jarvey, a spokesman for the District Attorney's Office in Worcester. Jarvey attended the hearing, and was reached by Milford Patch Tuesday night.
Jarvey said no documentation was presented to the court by the defense attorneys, and noted that the state prosecutors have not yet had Guaman evaluated by a medical expert.
In an email, Ettenberg said Wednesday morning that Superior Judge James Lemire has ordered another medical evaluation of Guaman.
"We have met with him a number of times and it has become clear to us that he simply can’t assist us in defending his case," Ettenberg wrote. "That’s something to which he has a constitutional right to do. As a result, we retained a neuropsychologist to conduct an evaluation to render an opinion whether Mr. Guaman is competent to stand trial. The doctor’s opinion is that Mr. Guaman is not competent and we so advised the judge."
In a post on the Facebook site, Justice for Matt, the Denice family posted the following comment: "Guaman was able to get here from Ecuador, has lived here illegally for at least 7 years that we are aware of, married, provided for his family, worked as a roofer and in construction, has been driving around and has been arrested several times for other crimes... but he is now mentally incompetent."
The state will have a clinician on hand Wednesday, for an evaluation for Guaman, Jarvey said, as part of a 9 a.m. hearing that is expected to include courtroom depositions of four members of the Guaman family.
The defense, Jarvey said, "was hoping to postpone the depositions" Tuesday but was not successful. The depositions, which will be videotaped, are designed to capture the testimony of four family witnesses, relating to the events that transpired Aug. 20, 2011.
The family members have not been identified in documents, but defense attorneys confirmed earlier this year they include the 6-year-old son of Guaman, who was a passenger in the pickup truck the night of the collision with Denice.
An adult witness who was in the truck — Luis Acosta — fled the U.S. after breaking off a GPS tracking bracelet being monitored by federal authorities. He is thought to be in Ecuador.
Guaman entered the U.S. illegally, according to police. He is subject to an ICE detainer, should he be released from custody. While his trial proceeds, he is being held in a Worcester County facility.
Before the charges in the Denice case, he was arrested several times in Massachusetts, including for an assault on public safety employees. In that case, the charges were dismissed.