Suspect in attempted murder of gas station manager to remain in jail

  • William Soler appears for a bail hearing in Merrimack County Superior Court on Wednesday. ALYSSA DANDREA

Monitor staff
Wednesday, October 04, 2017

A Concord man accused of attempting to kill a gas station manager in the city poses a danger to himself and others, and should not be released from jail at this time, a judge ruled Wednesday.

William Soler, 41, requested that Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Richard McNamara reduce bail from $100,000 cash-only to personal recognizance so that he could return to New Hampshire Hospital for treatment of a mental illness. His public defender, Tracy Scavarelli, said Soler suffers from a form of schizophrenia, which has resulted in his involuntary hospitalization on at least three occasions.

“We do feel that Mr. Soler is not receiving the appropriate measures of mental health treatment at the Merrimack County House of Corrections,” she told the court during Wednesday’s bail hearing. “They’re certainly doing their best, but are just ill-equipped to deal with his mental health.”

Scavarelli explained that Soler is on medication but not receiving counseling and other support services. She said hospital staff could stabilize him for release into the community, if they deem that’s appropriate, and continue to monitor him at his father’s home in Concord.

The state hospital won’t accept an individual who is being held on cash bail, she said; if that person is in a secure environment, than he or she no longer poses an immediate public safety risk. If Soler’s bail was reduced to personal recognizance, she said, that would open the door to his readmittance.

Assistant Merrimack County Attorney George Waldron strongly opposed the request, saying that Soler was on conditional release from New Hampshire Hospital in August when he tried to kill a woman at the Mobile gas station on South Main Street.

In a police interview, Soler said he drove toward the gas station manager and tried to run her over, according to court records. He said he was getting the runaround on a job application he’d filed there, and thought it was because the manager was discriminating against him, an affidavit says.

Waldron told the court Wednesday that Soler stated his intent to kill the manager and another employee who had also gone outside to check on a report of vandalism to a gas pump. At the time of the alleged offense, the state hospital was supposed to be monitoring Soler and making sure that he was taking his medication, Waldron said.

“The state concedes he has a mental illness issue, but you have a state hospital that’s really not supervising him in any manner,” he said.

Soler has a criminal history in New Hampshire, but prior cases against him were not carried forward, Waldron said. That included a 2015 arson case; Soler was accused of starting a fire in a large apartment building on Manchester’s Prospect Street, but the charge was ultimately dropped.

Attorneys have raised questions about whether Soler is mentally competent to stand trial in the attempted murder case. Waldron said he believes prior courts have weighed the issue, and determined that Soler was unfit to stand trial.

Scavarelli said Soler is scheduled to undergo a mental health evaluation Thursday. A competency hearing is scheduled for Dec. 11.

“Mr. Soler, you’ve obviously been afflicted with a disease that we have to help you get treatment for,” McNamara said at the conclusion of Wednesday’s hearing. However, he added, “I think a reduction of bail would pose too much of a risk to the public, so I’m going to leave it as is.”

(Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 369-3319 or adandrea@cmonitor.com.)