Armed robbery suspect to undergo mental health evaluation

Monitor staff
Monday, January 15, 2018

A Concord armed robbery case moving toward a plea resolution is now on hold as the court addresses concerns about the defendant’s mental competency.

Oscar Ndibanje, 21, previously of Burlington, Vt., was scheduled to face a judge in Merrimack County Superior Court on Feb. 7 for a plea and sentencing hearing. However, in recent weeks, defense counsel filed a motion asking the court to provide services for Ndibanje to undergo a mental health evaluation by a forensic psychologist.

Attorneys will typically request an evaluation when there is concern about a defendant’s ability to understand their constitutional rights to plead or go to trial in a criminal case, either due to a new or persistent mental illness.

Ndibanje is accused of threatening the driver of a black Honda Civic with a knife at the Blossom Hill Cemetery on North State Street. He had initially asked the driver, Chase Haines, for a ride, but became agitated when Haines did not comply in the moment, police allege. That is when Ndibanje pulled out a knife and said something to the effect of “don’t make me do this,” while demanding Heins get out of the car, according to a sworn affidavit.

But Ndibanje did not make it far from the scene of the alleged crime, according to reports. Concord police Sgt. Rob Buelte said previously that the car is a stick-shift, which Ndibanje did not know how to operate.

Since his arrest Aug. 18, Ndibanje has been held for lack of $25,000 bail at the Merrimack County jail in Boscawen. That same month, he was facing unrelated felony drug charges, also in Merrimack County Superior Court; however, those charges have since been dismissed.

Ndibanje told his attorney, Kathryn Pelletier, that his methamphetamine use clouded his judgment on the night of the robbery, according to court documents. Ndibanje also previously expressed his desire to enter into a residential drug treatment program, but the court has denied his request for reduced bail.

Judge Richard McNamara ordered Ndibanje’s bail to remain as previously set at a hearing this week.