PITTSFIELD -- A Lee man who police say shot his stepson three times on Thursday is being held without bail and will spend the next 20 days in a psychiatric hospital for a mental health evaluation. The stepson was reported in stable condition Friday at the hospital.
Phap D. Nguyen, a 51-year-old who resides with his family at 175 Beartown Road in Lee, was arraigned Friday afternoon in Central Berkshire District Court, where he pleaded not guilty to armed assault to murder.
Nguyen was ordered sent to Bridgewater State Hospital by Judge Michael J. Ripps. Nguyen's evaluation there is to determine if he is competent to stand trial.
According to a police report, Nguyen uttered a profanity before shooting 30-year-old Jeremy Lee Deane once in each leg and once in the abdomen, as the stepson rummaged in the refrigerator for a snack at about 5:30 p.m. Thursday. Nguyen then aimed the gun at his stepson's head, but had it pulled away by his wife, according to court documents.
"It's OK, Dad, I still love you" was what Deane allegedly told his stepfather as Deane lay bleeding on the kitchen floor.
As of Friday afternoon, Deane was in stable condition at Berkshire Medical Center.
The family dog was killed by a single gunshot to the head, police said. On Friday, Nguyen pleaded not guilty to an animal cruelty charge.
Thursday evening, the shooting drew a response of force from law enforcement, including Lee Police and Massachusetts State Police, as well
Nguyen was taken into custody and processed at the State Police barracks in Lee. The 9 mm pistol used in the shooting was recovered by police.
Police said Nguyen was distraught when he was arrested, screaming "I killed my son" and asking the police to shoot him.
According to information given to police by family members, Nguyen was taking large amounts of Oxycodone as well as other prescription drugs for ongoing back pain, and in the last few months had been acting unstable. His daughter told police Nguyen had said that "the devil" was "coming to get him" and that Deane was "pushing him toward the devil."
Nguyen, who is originally from Vietnam, previously suffered "flashbacks," according to what his family told police.
A competency exam was ordered for Nguyen on Friday. J. Roger Goldin, a court-appointed psychiatrist, told the judge that there were questions about whether the defendant could assist in his own defense and believed Nguyen should be evaluated further.
Goldin said the defendant "drifts and is unable to stay focused," breaks down into tears, wails and keeps repeating, "Why, why."
Nguyen is scheduled to be back in Southern Berkshire District Court in Great Barrington for a pretrial hearing on Jan. 3, 2013.
Nguyen is being represented by attorney Jill Sheldon. Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Kelly M. Kemp is prosecuting.
The case will most likely go to a grand jury, based on the charges.
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