NASHUA — A judge has denied Eric Largy’s motion to dismiss charges alleging he beat his father, retired Nashua Police Chief Clifton Largy, seven years ago. Prosecutors re-indicted Eric Largy on a kidnapping and two counts of first-degree assault charges in May.
Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Charles S. Temple did order a new evaluation of Eric Largy, 49, to determine if he is now competent to stand trial in connection with the incident with his father on April 22, 2009.
Temple said he will expedite the competency evaluation even though neither the prosecution, nor defense has asked for one.
“(I)t is clear that there are significant questions regarding (Eric Largy’s) mental health and whether he has been restored to competence,” Temple wrote.
Prosecutor Michele Battaglia and Largy’s attorney, Public Defender Michael Davidow, disagreed on whether the state could re-indict Largy without new evidence that he is competent to stand trial.
Battaglia argued that Largy’s “own actions in his civil commitment proceedings (opening the case to the media, indicating he cannot comment until the statute of limitations runs, etc.) led the State to believe that this defendant may be competent.”
Davidow said the law requires the prosecution to establish Largy’s competency before re-indicting him.
“Once an individual has been adjudicated not competent to stand trial, due process requires ‘suspension of the criminal trial until such time, if any, that the defendant regains the capacity to participate in his defense and understand the proceedings against him,’” Davidow wrote in his motion to dismiss the charges.
In New Hampshire, competency evaluations determine whether the defendant suffers from a mental disease, has a rational and factual understanding of the proceedings, and sufficient ability to consult with and assist his or her lawyer on the case, according to RSA 135:17.
The new indictments against Largy allege the same crimes as originally charged in 2009, but were later dropped — that he restrained his father in an antique barber’s chair, then “tortured him for a period of approximately 12 hours.”
The senior Largy suffered a fractured jaw and orbital bones. Clifton Largy said he was lured to his son’s home in Nashua and Eric struck him from behind. Eric Largy said he was defending himself from an abusive father who used his political connections to manipulate the case against him, which Clifton Largy adamantly denies.
Eric Largy has been locked up for the past seven years — first awaiting trial in Valley Street Jail, then in the Secure Psychiatric Unit at the state prison after he was involuntarily committed for five and a half years through the civil commitment process in Probate Court.
Largy was moved to the less secure New Hampshire Hospital, the state’s psychiatric hospital, on April 22, with a Probate Court judge ordering that a social worker prepare him for discharge by a mid-July hearing, which was later re-scheduled.
At Largy’s first competency hearing on Aug. 18, 2010, Dr. Nicholas Petrou said he was “suffering from delusional disorder with persecutory (paranoid) and grandiose features” and was therefore incompetent to stand trial, Temple wrote.
Judge Jacalyn Colburn found Largy incompetent but potentially restorable on Aug. 20, 2010. When the state attempted to re-evaluate his competency in 2011, “(Eric Largy) repeatedly refused to meet with the state’s expert, Dr. Daniel Comiskey,” Temple wrote.
After Largy finally met with Dr. Comiskey, Temple said Largy provided a written statement on why he refused the evaluation.
The statement provided, in part: “I Eric Largy cannot recognize, hold official relations with, or give friendly reception to agents and or officials of government (NH) which is determined and bound to conspire against this defendant/patient by use of fraud and or deceptive measures,” Temple wrote.
Based on that statement, his brief interaction with Largy and his review of Dr. Petrou’s report, Dr. Comiskey offered the opinion that Largy was still incompetent to stand trial, Temple wrote.
Temple said a prosecutor may order a further competency evaluation before re-indicting someone who is involuntarily committed if there is a reasonable basis to believe the person’s condition changed, but he said it is not required by law.
Temple also dismissed Largy’s argument that the state must have a “reasonable basis” to believe that his competency has been restored before refiling the criminal charges against him.
But even if it did, Temple said the state met that burden because Largy has been moved to the less restrictive New Hampshire Hospital and may soon be released.
“These two facts tend to suggest that there has been some improvement in (Largy’s) mental health,” Temple wrote.
He also noted that Largy hasn’t undergone a competency evaluation in six years.
“Although the defendant maintains that he has been resistant to treatment, the Court nor the State has any way of verifying that information,” Temple wrote.
There is therefore “a reasonable basis to believe that (Eric Largy’s) condition has changed such that competency to stand trial may have been affected,” Temple wrote.