Thursday March 14, 2013

PITTSFIELD -- A Lee man accused of shooting his stepson and killing the family dog in December pleaded not guilty to two charges on Wednesday in Berkshire Superior Court and remains free on $5,000 bail.

Phap Nguyen, 51, appeared before Judge John A. Agostini and denied single counts of armed assault to murder and animal cruelty.

The judge, at the request of First Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Paul J. Caccaviello, ordered $5,000 cash or $50,000 bail bond -- the amount set at an earlier district court hearing -- be maintained for the defendant. The judge also ordered the native of Vietnam to surrender his passport, to stay away from his stepson and to provide the probation department with a list of the psychiatric medications he is supposed to take.

According to Nguyen’s attorney, Nathaniel K. Green, his client has been out on bail since Jan. 31 and has had no problems during that time.

According to police, on the afternoon of Dec. 13, Nguyen shot 30-year-old Jeremy Lee Deane twice with a 9-mm pistol as the young man rummaged in the refrigerator for a snack in the kitchen of the family home at 175 Beartown Mountain Road in South Lee.

Deane was shot once in each leg and once in the abdomen. He was released from the hospital five days later.

Nguyen was held without bail after his arrest and spent six weeks under observation at a psychiatric facility. Doctors there determined that he was competent to stand trial.

Caccaviello told the court on Wednesday that there may be "lack of criminal responsibility issues" in the case.

If, as the case moves forward, it is determined that Nguyen is not guilty by reason of a lack of criminal responsibility, he would likely end up being placed in a secure psychiatric center rather than spending time in prison.

A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Sept. 4.

The investigation is being handled by state police detectives assigned to the District Attorney’s Office, members of the Lee Police Department and troopers assigned to the Ballistics and Crime Scene Services Section of the Massachusetts State Police.