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UPDATED: Competency Hearing Tuesday in Guaman Case

A competency hearing to determine if Nicolas Guaman understands the charges against him, and his case, rescheduled several times, is expected to begin at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

The competency hearing for Nicolas Guaman is expected to begin at 11 a.m Tuesday at Worcester Superior Court. The hearing has been rescheduled several times over the last several months.

Original Post:

WORCESTER — A competency hearing for Nicolas Guaman, an Ecuadorian man charged in the death of Milford resident Matthew Denice, was postponed Tuesday because the available interpreter could not speak Quichua, the defendant's primary language.

Quichua is an indigenous language of Ecuador, and Massachusetts has just one interpreter who speaks it fluently and works for the courts, according to a defense attorney. The interpreter available Tuesday was Bolivian, and had a dialect the defendant could not understand, according to Superior Judge Janet Kenton-Walker.

Kenton-Walker ordered the competency hearing rescheduled to a date at which an appropriate interpreter would be available. The new date is Jan. 24.

"We've got a major problem," the judge told the attorneys and audience members in the courtroom, including the family of Matthew Denice, who had waited two hours for the hearing to begin. 

"We don't have the appropriate interpreter to assist the defendant in this hearing," the judge said.

Although a Spanish language interpreter was available, the nature of the competency hearing would include complex medical terminology. The defendant, the judge said, "doesn't have a real working use or knowledge of the Spanish language, that will be of any use to him in a hearing like this."

"It is the defendant's right to have meaningful participation in this case," Kenton-Walker said. "I will not proceed without an appropriate interpreter."

In a competency hearing, experts testify as to whether a defendant understands the case against him, along with other criteria for competency.

Guaman's attorneys have argued that he is not competent, that he lacks an ability to understand his case and work effectively with his attorneys.

Guaman, according to police, is an illegal immigrant who has been living in the U.S. for at least seven years. Before his arrest, he was employed as a roofer. , then of failing to stop the vehicle. Guaman faces a second-degree murder charge, along with several other felony charges.

Two reports have been submitted to the court, and Kenton-Walker said she had reviewed them. One was submitted by Paul Spiers, a Danvers-based neuropsychologist appointed by the defense attorneys. Another report is by Hanya Bluestone, a Spencer-based psychologist appointed by the court.

According to defense attorney Peter Ettenberg, Spiers found Guaman was not competent to stand trial. The report submitted by Bluestone did not find him 'not competent', Ettenberg said.

Because they are medical reports, the documents are not a public record.

Outside the courtroom, Ettenberg told reporters that Spiers used a Spanish-language interpreter in evaluating Guaman. Ettenberg said Bluestone used an interpreter who speaks Quichua. Ettenberg has challenged the conclusions of the Bluestone report, he said, in part, because the interpreter was evaluating her "impressions" of his client.

The competency hearing has been rescheduled at least twice.

Denice's parents, Maureen and Michael Maloney, told reporters outside the courtroom that the delays in the competency hearing were disappointing. But that they want to make sure no argument can be made that Guaman did not understand the proceedings.

"We want to dot our I's and cross our T's and not give the defense any excuses to throw this out," said Maureen Maloney.

Michael Maloney said the family will continue to attend every hearing. "We're just going to keep on coming until we get justice for Matt. It's sad we have to go in and prove somebody's competency. He was competent to get into this country."

Babs01757 January 08, 2013 at 09:37 PM
Humm... he has had no difficulty understanding a Spanish interpreter for every other court hearing and even completed a mental competency evaluation through a Spanish interpreter but he suddenly can not understand someone that speaks his native language????? I think he has a very good attorney that has been coaching him to act incompetent. I heard Guaman had the nerve to wear rosary beads around his neck in court. REALLY!!!!! You are here illegally, driving without a license and drunk, kill an innocent young man, flee and now you pull this?? I hope you rot in hell along with your POS lawyers!
Live and In Color January 08, 2013 at 09:57 PM
What torture this must be to the Denice family. Over and over, another hack job by this backwards state to protect a murderer who should never even have been here all in the name of liberal "fairness". All the while when state taxes are taken from their paychecks, some goes to house, feed, clothe, pay a lawyer, pay a translator, pay for competency specialists, and give all the rights of a citizen to a illegal alien criminal who killed their son. My heart goes out to them and hopefully the process is over soon and this trash is in jail and the family is out of Milford.
Kathy January 08, 2013 at 11:38 PM
The mental competency evaluation through the Spanish interpreter was the evaluation that said he was not competant to stand trial... this may explain why? God bless the Maloney/Denice family for all the ups and downs they've had to endure trying to get justice for their son.
Jason Taft January 09, 2013 at 02:28 AM
ILLEGAL ALIEN!! He shouldn't have any rights REALLY I Use to see this guy trying to cash his check every Friday at citizens bank in milford he certainly seemed to understand the bank teller when he was told he couldn't cash his check without a ID because in the weeks to follow he figured out how to pass the same ID back to his friends wich all used the same one to cash there checks he had no problem communicating what kind of alcohol he wanted the day he murdered a United States Citizen sooooo wrong
Youve Beenhad January 09, 2013 at 08:02 PM
What a joke this is. His rights should have ended when he came to this country illegally. Oh yeah, per Martha Coakley...or is it Joakley?...it's lot illegal to be an illegal in MA. My thoughts are with the Denice family and hopefully, Guaman will get the punishment he deserves. Anyone who thinks Guaman doesn't understand what is going on is an idiot. I didn't know there was "complex medical terminology" to explain running over someone & dragging them to their death. He's been here 7 long years...I bet he understood when to show up for work & whether he was shorted a few Ben Franklins.

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