LEE -- A local man accused of shooting his stepson and killing the family dog in mid-December is competent to stand trial following a six-week mental health evaluation at a psychiatric facility, according to doctors.

Doctors at Bridgewater State Hospital have determined 51-year-old Phap Nguyen is capable to assist in his own defense, according to a report presented Thursday in Southern Berkshire District Court.

Following a brief bail hearing, Judge Fredric Rutberg ordered Nguyen held on $5,000 bail in the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction. In addition, the native of Vietnam must surrender all his passports and have no contact with his stepson.

Nguyen's next appearance in Southern Berkshire is Feb. 25 for a pretrial hearing.

Meanwhile, Rutberg issued a temporary restraining order against the shooting victim, 30-year-old Jeremy Lee Deane, for allegedly making threats against his mother, Patricia Nguyen, and Phap Nguyen's two older children, Catherine and Brian Nguyen.

The other three Nguyens told the court that Deane has repeatedly threatened to do physical harm to them, with Brian Nguyen claiming Deane has "physically attacked me" in the past.

"I've been scared to look outside my window to see if he's coming," said Patricia Nguyen.

Rutberg instructed the Nguyens to provide him with substantial proof of the verbal and physical abuse if they want the restraining order extended beyond two weeks.


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Deane was released from Berkshire Medical Center five days after being shot at the Nguyen home on Beartown Mountain Road in South Lee.

Phap Nguyen had been held without bail since his arraignment in Central Berkshire District Court on Dec. 14. He pleaded not guilty to one count each of armed assault to murder and animal cruelty.

Around 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 13, Lee police and state police have said Nguyen fired a 9-mm pistol at Deane in the kitchen, who was struck once in each leg and in the abdomen.

"It was an unprovoked attacked," Assistant District Attorney Dana Parsons said during Thursday's court proceeding.

Parsons noted Nguyen has been unemployed due to a back injury. At the time of Nguyen's arrest, family members told police he had been on painkillers and was acting unstable the last few months.

The prosecution had requested $10,000 bail based, in part, on Nguyen's possible flight risk. He has relatives in Vietnam and a history of mental illness.

"That mental illness is totally under control," responded Nguyen's defense attorney Nathaniel Green, citing his client's medical treatment at Bridgewater.

As for leaving the country, Green noted Nguyen has resided in Western Massachusetts for 30 years, the last 10 in South Lee.

"He has no intention of fleeing these charges," Green said.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.